Review – Audiobook: The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publish Date: April 3, 2012
Format: Audio, 18 hours | 19 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate
Rating: 4½ of 5
“– a breathtaking multigenerational love story that spans two continents, two World Wars, and the quest of two star-crossed lovers to find each other again.”
It is the early 1900s. Ciro and Enza are teenagers when they first meet in a mountain village in the Alps of Northern Italy. Circumstances separate the two, but neither of them ever forgets the other. Eventually they both move to America. Although Enza and Ciro do not find each other until well into the story, the title gives you the foreshadowing necessary to know that it will eventually happen. However, by the time they meet Enza has established herself as superb dressmaker for the Metropolitan Opera and Ciro, who turns out to be quite the ladies man, is learning a trade as a Shoemaker.
The story is told from the alternating perspective of Ciro and Enza, a beautiful tale that is richly detailed and filled with Italian traditions, family and emotion. We experience life as an immigrant, feel the pain of being forced to leave the home you love, not knowing the language in a new country and enduring financial hardship.
The descriptions of the food were some of my favorite parts and made me hungry and longing for traditional Northern Italian food. My grandparents are from Tuscany and many of dishes described are meals they prepared for our gatherings. I now have a craving for Torrone, a treat I haven’t had in years!
I listened to audiobook and the 18 hours flew by. I put the book on my mp3 player and listened at every opportunity for three days, much of the time in the garden. There are two narrators. The first part, in Italy, is read by actress Annabella Sciorra and the remaining two-thirds in America is by the author herself. Dual readers were the author’s idea, with the intent of creating the concept of a radio play. While I found each vocalization to be well done, the switch in narrators was a bit jolting at first as the two readers have dramatically different styles. Annabella reads in a smooth, storytelling voice while Adriana is much more emotional, passionate, and involved in the story.
At the end of the book the author mentions that she used her own grandparent’s life story for the basis of the novel. They met in America, not Italy as Enza and Ciro, but her grandfather was a shoemaker and while her grandmother loved Caruso, the job as a seamstress is fiction. This lends a nice personal touch and air of authenticity.
My grandparents are also from Northern Italy and came to America shortly after the end of The Great War in search of work. They intended to earn some money and return home, but it didn’t work out that way. They stayed in America, raised a family and it wasn’t until 40 years later that they made a trip back for a visit. By that time many of their family in Italy were no longer alive. It wasn’t until I myself visited Tuscany that I realized the beauty of the land they left behind and what they gave up by staying in America. I could feel for Enza and her pain at leaving the mountain, at never seeing her family again.
This story is happy, sad, a big mix of emotion, and one I highly recommend. This is the first book I’ve read by Adriana Trigiani and it won’t be the last.
Source: Review copy.
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