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May 25, 2012 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Audiobook Cover for Shoemaker's WifeThe Shoemaker’s Wife
by Adriana Trigiani
Narrated by Annabella Sciorra and Adriana Trigiani

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperAudio
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.
© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. Mary / May 25 2012 5:49 am

    She’s one of my favorite authors. I’m so glad you liked it because it’s one of my favorites of the year. I rarely read a book twice but this sounds like one I might listen to!


  2. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / May 25 2012 6:43 am

    Leslie, I love the sound of this one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  3. BermudaOnion / May 25 2012 9:51 am

    I loved the book too! I’m glad to know the audio was well done.


  4. Suko / May 25 2012 3:30 pm

    Leslie, I’m glad you enjoyed this. I have not read anything by this popular author.


  5. DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks) / May 25 2012 3:38 pm

    Sounds like the audio is mostly well-done, but it would be nice if the narrators had more similar styles.


  6. sagustocox / May 25 2012 9:35 pm

    This is the story I want to read!


  7. Leeswammes / May 27 2012 1:00 pm

    I enjoyed this book a lot too, but it’s of course extra special when your family went through a similar thing – how nice that you could imagine a bit how it was for your grandparents.


    • Leslie / May 29 2012 2:45 pm

      It had to be total culture shock for them to go from the hills of Italy to a big city and a foreign language and customs. I could do it… but not if I could never return home.


  8. Kristin Redmond / May 29 2012 11:27 am

    Thanks for the review, my friend is listening to this and was very shocked by the change in narrator. I can’t decide if I want to listen or read the book. Try listening to Trigiani’s Valentine books- Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine they are both narrated by Cassandra Campbell- and are both fantastic!


    • Leslie / May 29 2012 2:40 pm

      It took me an hour or so to get used the change in narrators. I’m glad it was explained at the end because I couldn’t imagine why and was wondering if something happened to the first narrator and she couldn’t finish the book!

      I’m glad you mentioned that Cassandra Campbell narrates the Valentine books… that makes my decision to listen very easy. She is one of my favorite narrators.


  9. Cuckoo Chanel / Jun 16 2012 11:34 am

    It’s not only jolting, it’s unlistenable. I was enjoying the novel so much and just came upon the Trigiani-narrated portion. What a disappointment.


    • Leslie / Jun 16 2012 11:42 am

      If I had read the book instead it would have been 5 stars. The narrator switch was the only negative for me. After an hour or so I got used to the change, but it would have been better if they didn’t do it that way.



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