Book Review #32: The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

8 May

*Although this book has now been released, I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy from the author.

Adriana Trigiani’s warm and inviting stories are about Italians living in or immigrating to America, and their families, lovers and friends. The Shoemaker’s Wife is the love story of Ciro and Enza, who meet as children in their small mountain Italian town and both immigrate to America – Ciro for punishment, Enza to support her family. Over the years, as Enza works her way up the seamstress ladder to become the main seamstress for a Metropolitan Opera star, and Ciro firmly establishes himself as an entrepreneurial shoemaker, they occasionally bump into each other, rekindling their childhood feelings for each other.

Enza was my favorite part of this novel.  She’s one of the truly strong, brave, hardworking female characters Trigiani is known for.  She worships her family, moving abroad to support them and earning enough money over time to build them a house.  She wants something for herself, something more than marriage, and along with her Irish best friend, she works tirelessly to get it. She’s kind, sensitive and wonderfully creative – I loved the chapters about her and her friend Laura working as seamstresses at the Met. It was both exciting, and grueling, to read about.

If you’re looking for a will-they-or-won’t-they love story rich in historical details, I highly recommend The Shoemaker’s Wife.  However, there were a few things I didn’t enjoy (potential spoilers after the jump).

My primary problem with the book, although it’s a small one, is that for the first 100 pages, I thought this book was about something else.  Because the first 100 pages focus almost exclusively on Ciro and his brother Eduardo growing up in a convent, and their mysteriously absent mother, I thought this was a story of two brothers.  It eventually becomes obvious that this is Ciro and Enza’s story, but I wanted to know more about Ciro’s family.  Aside from some letters back and forth between Eduardo, who becomes a priest, after they are separated, Ciro’s family does not play a big role in the novel. His mother, and dead father, pop up later in the novel, and it feels forced. Exploring anything about Eduardo’s journey to priesthood would have been fascinating.  At one point, Ciro mentions that Eduardo has new brothers now. And yes, Eduardo needs to give up some of his old life to become a priest. But family is family, and I felt that Ciro flitted from surrogate family to surrogate family with no thought towards his own. It bothered me.

My other problem with this love story was larger. Ciro treats Enza terribly, time and time again. And yet when Ciro arrives in his army uniform on the morning Enza’s marrying someone else, she decides to marry Ciro instead. He ignored her for years, sleeping with half the women in New York, never even thinking about her. When Enza and Ciro end up together, it’s based on one moment in their Italian childhood. I wasn’t happy for Enza; I was sad. I knew she’d always love Ciro more than he loves her.

That being said, they do have a particularly beautiful marriage after a few roadbumps. They are partners, with a shared history from their small village and their grueling time working in New York. The portrayal of their marriage as one of practicality was refreshing, and even romantic at times.

Worth a read !


One Response to “Book Review #32: The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani”


  1. HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #32: The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani « Cannonball Read IV - May 8, 2012

    […] Continue reading! Share this:ShareTwitterFacebookEmailDiggStumbleUpon Posted by HelloKatieO in 3 stars – a good book and tagged Adriana Trigiani, book reviews, books, CBR4, family drama, hellokatieo, historical fiction, love story, reviews, Trigiani […]

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