Adriana Trigiani is divinely gifted at creating compelling and relatable characters, and this is the reason why I couldn’t put down her latest novel The Shoemaker’s Wife.
Set in the Italian Alps during the early 1900s we meet Circo and Eduardo. Their mother, who is unable to care for the boys after the passing of their father, leaves Circo and Eduardo at a local convent. The boys spend the next five years making a life for themselves amongst the holy women. A few miles north lives Enza, who is the eldest of five children in a loving and caring family. A tragedy in Enza’s family will create the opportunity for Enza and Circo to meet.
“Life, Enza decided, is not about what you get, but what is taken from you. It’s in the things we lose that we discover what we most treasure.”
Within days of their meeting both Circo and Enza, independently, decide to leave Italy for America. Circo is being forced to leave because of a vengeful priest and Enza decides to leave to provide financial support for her family. In America, they will each carve out a new life, Circo as a shoemaker’s apprentice and Enza as a factory girl. However, as their lives transform, each of them can’t help but remember their fateful meeting. This will cause them to be drawn back into each other’s lives at crucial moments.
“It seemed to Circo that so much of life was about not holding on, but letting do and in so doing, the beauty of the past and the happiness he felt then came full circle like a band of gold.”
Trigiani comes from a family of Italian immigrants and this shows in the way she lovingly represents these humble people. What I adored about this book is that Trigiani writes from the perspective of both of the lead characters, and although at its core, this is a love story, the book is much richer than just a romance. Trigiani shows the struggle of immigrant life, the thrill of America in the early 1900s and the power of family and destiny. This is the second novel of Trigiani’s I have read, and I have loved each of her books so much that I will certainly be catching up on her older novels.