I'm not sure whether to give this 3 stars or 4. It's well written but the whole "wanna-punch-the-protag-in-the-face" feeling is hard to ignore. Frustr...moreI'm not sure whether to give this 3 stars or 4. It's well written but the whole "wanna-punch-the-protag-in-the-face" feeling is hard to ignore. Frustration with her overall personality and devotion/obsession with her friend is tough to overcome. However, the book is very interesting in a introspective sense because it recounts a friendship between two girls (growing up in Naples, Italy in the 50s) and I used to be one of two girls in a complicated friendship that seemed similar. Also, the book is written in such a personal, introspective sense on the part of the protag that it appears to be more of a memoir. There is just so much detail in the recounting of various events in this girl's childhood that it feels way more autobiographical than not. Apparently this is going to be a trilogy and I'm curious but I don't think I'm THAT curious, if ya know what I mean...(less)
So excited! Not only is this a Europa edition (a publisher that I've grown to love), BUT it has all the things I love AND the summary I read says it i...moreSo excited! Not only is this a Europa edition (a publisher that I've grown to love), BUT it has all the things I love AND the summary I read says it is "reminiscent of Bertolucci's masterpiece 1900 in its scope and subject matter" - a movie I geekily adore!(less)
When I was in school in Italy, my professor at the University of Florence was a raging bitch (excuse my language). She hated the group of us in her cl...moreWhen I was in school in Italy, my professor at the University of Florence was a raging bitch (excuse my language). She hated the group of us in her class that were American. She had no reason not to like us. We were quiet throughout class, unlike the other (native) students, and spent the entire lesson with our heads down scrambling to write down every word she said – in a foreign language – down in our notebooks. On our walks home from class, we “got her back” by gossiping about her, imagining scenarios in which her weirdness and bitchiness and that freakish blue pullover + zip-drive-on-a-necklace outfit she wore every day would come back to haunt her tenfold. Karma.
Somewhere along the line, we heard a rumor that she had a particular fondness for Antonio Tabucchi. She knew him. Was friends with him? More than friends? I don’t know where the original story spawned (did we make it up?), but rumor has it – they were doin’ it at some point. A secret relationship? And all the while, we sat like snobby literary geeks imagining how it all went down with the literature professor and the writer.
The other day I was reading the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica , and something caught my eye. An obituary. Antonio Tabucchi è morto.
I was actually sad for my bitchy professor. I scoured the death notices for one she may have written but alas, no clues. I imagined her secretly crying about her clandestine lost love alone in her dingy apartment surrounded by the dusty tomes of dead Italian poets. She sits disgusted by the literature that once consoled her, reminded of the times they shared debating everything from the circles of Dante’s hell to the sins of Sandro Penna – and where the old and new legends of Italian lit might meet.
For his memory and the memory of their secret trysts, I decided to give Tabucchi a try. With Requiem: A Hallucination, I received exactly the easy-reading story that I needed to accompany the stressful week I was having. It’s a tiny little novel and reads like a dream (well – that’s pretty much what it is, really). For those who are irked by run-on sentences or lack of punctuation, this would not work for you. But it’s short. It’s cute. And I left it ready to read another Tabucchi story just to get to know him a little better. Because I feel like I know him even if my knowledge of his secret love affair might not be very factual at all… ;) (less)
I was bawling my eyes out when I finished this book last night. [Now visible in my swollen morning eyes. :) ]
I had never read an Adriana Trigiani boo...moreI was bawling my eyes out when I finished this book last night. [Now visible in my swollen morning eyes. :) ]
I had never read an Adriana Trigiani book before DESPITE my having read more Italian-American/Italian novels than anyone I know (Italian literature was my major after all). I have read everything from Christ in Concrete, to my once-deemed-favorite-Italian-American-story by Mario Puzo, The Fortunate Pilgrim, to middle-grade fiction The King of Mulberry Street to lesser-known titles like Rosa: The Life of an Italian Immigrant. Needless to say, I almost felt like I’ve seen it all. Trigiani just seemed to me like another chick lit writer hiding under an historical fiction motif.
Now don’t get me wrong. Nothing about this novel is “chick lit” in the stereotypical sense of the word. It was not “light reading” on frivolous subjects like shopping and finding a dreamlike husband. (Yes, I realize my definition of chick lit IS stereotypical, but it is what it is!)
The Shoemaker’s Wife is an example of what should redefine the chick lit genre. This was a love story of the likes I haven’t enjoyed in a long time. (Okay – I’ll admit it - I don’t exactly pick up love stories in the first place.) I would go as far to say that this was an epic love story. It told of a love that transcends time and place and all of the shitty circumstances into which it was thrown. The story is based off of the real-life story of Trigiani’s grandparents’ love affair. If I hadn’t been told that at the end, I would’ve believed it anyway. I think it was the place in which I grew up, immersed in Italian-American culture everywhere I went, that made me have such a strong connection even to the fictionalized accounts of immigrants arriving in America. Every fictionalized character was based on my neighbor down the street’s story, or my classmate’s grandparents, or my very own ancestors – so it was always all real to me. In this book, Enza and Ciro were my grandparents just the same so every time some unfortunate event or pitfall befell them, my heart broke in half. Trigiani captures the emotions of man and woman alike so well that you can’t help think of them as your own.
This novel is an example of what chick lit should be because of the love affair it dedicates to all kinds of women, and their strengths and weaknesses. This is in no way the focus of the book, but its importance should not be ignored. The majority of Italian-American emigration/immigration stories out there focus on the man and his journey leaving the Motherland to work in America and provide for his family back home. After all, that is what history has focused on. But the women, oh the women of these times! The things they endured back home, trying to raise their children with their husbands thousands of miles away, and in a world in which it was much harder for a female to earn an income. Then we meet the women of the convent, seemingly living life outside of the rest of the world but still trapped in a patriarchal society. And young girls like Enza, forced to grow up too soon and to take on responsibilities no young woman should have to worry about. Women like Carla Zanotti, business women working behind the scenes holding everything together. The underappreciated, underestimated sex. So lovingly appreciated in this book. Even the faulty ones.
Ciro had also thought every day at the front about women. What soothed him in the past comforted him even more during the war. He remembered Sister Teresa in the convent kitchen at San Nicola, how she fed him and listened to him. He thought about Felicita's soft skin, the rhythm of her breath, the sleepy satisfaction that enveloped them after making love. He remembered women he had not met but had only seen on Mulberry Street. One girl, eighteen years old in a straw hat, had worn a red cotton skirt with buttons down the back from waist to hem. He thought about the curve of her calf and her beautiful feet, in flat sandals with the one strap of pale blue leather between the toes, as she walked past the shoe shop. He imagined, over and over again, the power of a kiss, and he thought that if he made it out of these trenches, he would never take a single kiss for granted. A woman's hand in his was a treasure; if he held one again, he would pay attention and relish the warm security of a gentle touch.
And things that Italian women say that I love the most:
"Please don't turn into the wife that chases her husband with a broom."
"I won't chase you with a broom... I'll pick up a shovel."
The Shoemaker’s Wife surpassed many of my most beloved Italian-American stories. I think I’ll really have to give Trigiani’s novels some more serious consideration! (less)
I'm giving this one 3 stars solely for my somewhat lack of interest in the plotline. The writing was done well. Character development was good as well...moreI'm giving this one 3 stars solely for my somewhat lack of interest in the plotline. The writing was done well. Character development was good as well.
I'm hoping to give Erri De Luca another shot since he is "the most widely read Italian author alive today." If anyone has any recommendations, I'd greatly appreciate it!(less)
I feel guilty for rating too many books as "5's" but I've come to the conclusion that in my rating system, a book can get a 5 if I loved it so much th...moreI feel guilty for rating too many books as "5's" but I've come to the conclusion that in my rating system, a book can get a 5 if I loved it so much that I wouldn't change one thing about it.
This book was so short that it felt/read like a short story. However, it was so easy to connect to the protagonist that it felt like I'd been reading about him for much longer. Much credit should be given to the author in that respect - its a clear display of talent in my opinion.
The story followed a 14 year old loner who, in order to appease his mother's desire for him to fit in, tells her that he's been invited on a ski trip with some of his popular classmates. Instead, he spends the time camped out in the cellar of his apartment building doing what he loves best - spending time by himself. Little did he know that his plan would be foiled by the unexpected arrival of his older half-sister who he has only met once.
This was truly an inspirational story that really makes you consider the unavoidable presence of unconditional love. With Thanksgiving coming up, I couldn't help but be grateful for the health of my family and luck I have for just having them around.(less)
Semi-autobiographical fictional (you know what I mean) account of Mario Puzo's mother's experience as a...moreAbsolutely one of my most favorite books ever.
Semi-autobiographical fictional (you know what I mean) account of Mario Puzo's mother's experience as an Italian American immigrant in New York in the beginning of the 20th century. Essential read for those interested in Italian American history or immigrant history. Puzo later wrote the Godfather using his mother as part of his inspiration for Don Corleone (eek!).(less)
Pretty good fictional account of the Borgia family during the time of Pope Alexander's (Rodrigo Borgia) reign. I'm not too sure about how I feel about...morePretty good fictional account of the Borgia family during the time of Pope Alexander's (Rodrigo Borgia) reign. I'm not too sure about how I feel about it as a whole. Definitely interesting but it was hard to connect not knowing how much of it was more truth rather than fiction.. I know some other accounts of the Borgias story go a little differently (accept other things as facts and vice versa). However, compared to other Borgia literature out there, this one still seems like it would be the most interesting. (In my opinion, many of the others seem more like chick lit/too romanticized.)
Many rape and incest scenes - not for the squeamish.(less)