The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza’s family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.
Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso.
From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.
First Impressions: Really hoping for a romantic love story.
Final Thoughts: I got that but much more. Yes, there was the love between Enza and Ciro, but this is also a story about the immigrant experience. And how hard it is to leave your home and your family behind to go to a new country. I loved every bit of it.
Favorite Part: Besides Enza and Ciro’s relationship, I’d have to say the parts that take place in Italy. The scenery just sounds so gorgeous. It brings you back to a simpler time before TV and cell phones and apps. (though not really so simple I guess because life was tough and people died a lot more easily, but still….) Enza and Ciro left before the war, and their villages back home often seemed like innocent places where the inhabitants were shielded from much of life’s horrors and hardships.
Goes well with: I don’t know any Italian beers…..so I’m going to go with one I associate with hardworking people because my dad drank it: Yuengling Black and Tan. Both Ciro and Enza worked so hard to provide for their families, so it’s only appropriate.
Title: The Shoemaker’s Wife
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Date of Publication: 2012