Julia Reed's Reviews > The Shoemaker's Wife

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
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's review
Apr 20, 2012

really liked it
Read in April, 2012

I could not put The Shoemaker's Wife down. It's a great love story, set in early 20th century America and 19th century Italy. Finally, a book about early Italian immigrants that does not involve the mafia. 2012, off to a good start!

Enza and Ciro, whose story is based on the true romance of the author's grandparents, grow up just a few miles apart from each other in the mountains of Northern Italy. Both are poor, but talented. Ciro is a handsome hard worker, the village Romeo, but also good with his wits. Enza is a talented seamstress, but more than that, she's the glue that holds her family together. The smart, level-headed one with the head for business. Poverty and bouts with injustice force both to go to America at the same time, but he settles in Manhattan, and she in Hoboken. Enza's talents eventually land her a job sewing costumes at the Metropolitan Opera for the Great Caruso, one of Italy's finest singers. Ciro learns how to make shoes and succeeds in business. But still, for about 75% of the book, the "wife" part of the title remains unfulfilled. That's probably for the best, as the most enjoyable parts of the story are really the Enza/Ciro sort-of-love-affair. You know they're destined to be together, but circumstance keeps pulling them apart. They find and lose each other for years before they finally tie the knot, and even then, it's an uncertain thing.

As I said, the first three quarters of the book, the story of the couple and their love affair, is the best part. It probably could have ended nicely with their marriage and an epilogue. Instead, Trigiani decides to drag it out for several more decades, and without the pushing of the ill-fated love affair, the story loses a lot of its tension. Still, Trigiani is a skilled writer and she does a good job evoking the eras that you're travelling in. Even if you're just coasting to the conclusion, it's a nice ride.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Rosario (new)

Rosario I agree with Julia Reed's review. The author should have ended the story with the wedding of Ciro and Enza and their new life in Minnesota.

A also find the story too wordy and predictable.

Erin I agree as well... The only point I saw in it going on so long was that we'd finally get to see Enza back on her mountain... But then it ended before that happened!

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