The Shoemaker’s Wife

The Shoemaker's WifeThe Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Caution: May contain spoilers!

I really loved this story. The author spent 20 years on it, and the historical detail is fascinating. Lots of description of clothing, food, and daily life, whether on the Iron Range of Minnesota or behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Opera with Enrico Caruso. It brings to life the lives of immigrants at the turn of the century and up through the 1930s. I really didn’t want the story to end. I wish it had been made into a trilogy. The first half of the book was complete in itself – the story of Enza and Ciro growing up and ending with their at long last engagement. The second book could have covered their marriage, leaving NYC for Minnesota, establishing a business and ending with Ciro’s much too early death. Enza’s life as a widow could have been a third book, and this section was all too short in the book. It ended with her finally agreeing to return to visit Italy with her son and his bride, but I would love to have had the story continue with that trip, her family reunion, and the rest of her life as a grandmother perhaps….

My only quibble with the audiobook was the decision to have two narrators. Annabella Sciorra had an elegant voice, and a believable Italian accent. When Adriana Trigiana took over the narration I found it distracting. Her voice almost had a New Jersey accent, and the change in pronunciation of names was disconcerting. But I got used to it. It wasn’t bad – just different – and I suppose was a reflection of the big changes in their lives at that point, and that they were now Americans, not Italian immigrants.

Book Description: The majestic beauty of the Italian Alps at the turn of the twentieth century is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy. When Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished and sent to hide in America. Soon Enza’s family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America. Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America. Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I as Enza begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House. Over time, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.

Inspired by Adriana Trigiani’s own family history and the love of tradition, The Shoemaker’s Wife defines an era with operatic scope that will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come.


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