Anyone who’s ever read an Adriana Trigiani book—oh, who are we kidding? No one ever reads just one of Trigiani’s wonderfully quirky tales. Once you pick up the first, you are hooked by her all-too-human characters and their sprawling families. So let us rephrase: Anyone who’s ever devoured Trigiani’s books knows what you’re going to get—a lot of fun delivered with a lot of heart.
Lucky for us, Trigiani has embarked on a new trilogy centered on a 30-something Italian-American custom shoemaker living in Greenwich Village. In Very Valentine, we meet Valentine Roncalli, who in her close-knit family is known as “the funny one.” Single and living with her beloved Gram, Valentine is focused on mastering the art of shoemaking while bringing the family’s business into the 21st century.
When she meets Roman Falconi, chef of the new Manhattan hot spot Ca’ d’Oro, Valentine is smitten but weary of trying to balance work and love. Her business is floundering, and she needs to focus on the biggest opportunity ever to come to the Angelini Shoe Company: a contest to design a wedding shoe for the winter window display at Bergdorf Goodman. When Valentine travels to Italy with her Gram to find inspiration for the design, she studies with a master cobbler and learns she’s not just a shoemaker but an artist.
“New York City is everything to me,” she says, “but I know now, in the frenzy and the noise, amidst the urgency and rush, that the voice of the artist can be drowned out in the pursuit of making a living. . . . an artist needs time to think and to dream.”
Valentine also finds something else she wasn’t expecting: Gianluca, an intriguing Italian man who makes her re-evaluate her life and relationship back in Manhattan.â
Trigiani fills her pages with snappy dialogue and luscious descriptions of both the Italian food her characters love and their surroundings, whether it’s New York or the island of Capri. Reading Very Valentine is like tucking into a plate of homemade manicotti: irresistible and delicious.
Amy Scribner writes from Olympia, Washington.