by Adriana Trigiani
Why did you choose this book? I read The Shoemaker’s Wife and enjoyed it
When did you read this book? October 2013
Who should read this book? fans of Adriana Trigiani and contemporary family sagas
Source: library ebook
Meet the Roncalli and Angelini families, a vibrant cast of colorful characters who navigate tricky family dynamics with hilarity and brio, from magical Manhattan to the picturesque hills of bella Italia. Very Valentine is the first novel in a trilogy and is sure to be the new favorite of Trigiani's millions of fans around the world.
In this luscious, contemporary family saga, the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of exquisite wedding shoes since 1903, is one of the last family-owned businesses in Greenwich Village. The company is on the verge of financial collapse. It falls to thirty-three-year-old Valentine Roncalli, the talented and determined apprentice to her grandmother, the master artisan Teodora Angelini, to bring the family's old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century and save the company from ruin.
While juggling a budding romance with dashing chef Roman Falconi, her duty to her family, and a design challenge presented by a prestigious department store, Valentine returns to Italy with her grandmother to learn new techniques and seek one-of-a-kind materials for building a pair of glorious shoes to beat their rivals. There, in Tuscany, Naples, and on the Isle of Capri, a family secret is revealed as Valentine discovers her artistic voice and much more, turning her life and the family business upside down in ways she never expected. Very Valentine is a sumptuous treat, a journey of dreams fulfilled, a celebration of love and loss filled with Trigiani's trademark heart and humor.
I was a little disappointed in this book, through no fault of the author’s. It’s just that I’d picked this up because I so much enjoyed The Shoemaker’s Wife, expecting this one to be very similar. One of the things I’d loved about The Shoemaker’s Wife was the telling of the immigrant experience from an Italian American perspective. While this book also deals with an Italian American family and shoe making is an important part of the story, this is a contemporary story.
Valentine is part of an Italian American family living in New York. She is the only ‘unattached’ family member, but is hoping not to remain so. Valentine’s grandfather was a shoe maker who immigrated from Italy and opened the Angelini Shoe Company, which is now run by his widow, Valentine’s grandmother. Most of the family has no interest in continuing the tradition of shoe making, but Valentine works with her grandmother learning the trade and loves it! However, the company is in financial trouble and there is a disagreement among the grandchildren about what should be done with the company. Valentine wants to continue in the business, while her siblings feel it might be time for Grandma to retire.
The book was a little slow for me to get into, possibly because I was expecting something else. But once I got to know the characters, especially Valentine and her Grandmother, I did enjoy the story. I loved reading about their trip to Italy, and Valentine’s experiences in learning more about shoe making. I was not so interested in Valentine’s romances.
While it got off to a slow start for me, and I was a bit disappointed that it was not another ‘historical’ fiction, I did enjoy the story. This is the first in a series about Valentine and her family, and I definitely plan to read more about them!
My Rating: ★★★ 3 Stars