Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

The book club selection for December/January is The Shoemaker's Wife  by Adriana Trigiani.  Once again, from the very first sentence, I knew I was going to love the writing in this book.  "The scalloped hem of Caterina Lazzari's blue velvet coat grazed the fresh-fallen snow, leaving a pale pink path on the bricks as she walked across the empty piazza."  How beautiful is that imagery?!
Beginning in 1904 in Northern Italy, The Shoemaker's Wife  follows the life of Ciro Lazzari from the time he is ten years old.  His father has recently died and his mother can no longer care for him and his brother and so the boys are left in the care of the nuns at a convent in the Italian Alps.  Time passes and the boys grow into young men.  The brothers embark on separate paths, Ciro's leading him to America, his brother Eduardo's to the priesthood.  The story also follows Enza, a young girl that Ciro meets while still living in the convent.  Enza is the oldest of six children and feels a great responsibility to help care for her family.  A seamstress, Enza also immigrates to America with her father where Enza and Ciro weave in and out of each other's lives.

This is a beautifully written book that explores the difficult realities of the life of an immigrant in the early 20th century.  I was fascinated with the descriptions of struggle and the different classes within the immigrant community.  "We all come here thinking that we'll go home.  And then, this becomes home."  There is so much love within these pages:  A boy's love for his mother, a young man's love for his brother, a girl's love and sacrifice for her family, a father's love for his daughter, the love of good friends helping one another through life and the enduring love of a husband and wife.  "If you truly love someone, when he is cut, you bleed."  I loved this book.  I recommend it.  I will gift it.  I hope you'll read it and then let me know what you thought.  Oh, and may I recommend a box of tissues?

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