The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
HarperCollins • $26.99 • ISBN 9780061257094
Published April 3, 2012

Adriana Trigiani has a large and devoted group of fans, and they are in for a real treat with The Shoemaker's Wife, the author's self-proclaimed "artistic obsession" that has been in the works for 20+ years and was inspired by her grandparents.

This is one of those novels that you just want to curl up with. The story unfolds slowly, but it doesn't drag; by the end of the nearly 500 pages, the characters will have touched your heart and become like family.

The story is about Enza Ravanelli, poor but happy and devoted to her family, and Ciro Lazzari, an orphan who is raised by nuns in a convent. They two meet as teenagers in the Italian Alps and sense a strong connection—but they don't have an easy happily ever after. Separately, they end up in the United States, where Ciro becomes a shoemaker, and Enza eventually works as a seamstress for the great Enrico Caruso at the Metropolitan Opera. Along the way, their paths cross again . . .

Here's an excerpt from one of their early meetings in America.

An accordion played in the distance, underscoring peals of laughter and the low drone of scattered conversation from the porches and yards close by. The cool night air had the scent of buttery caramel and cigar smoke. Rolling gray clouds from the last of the fireworks hung over the jagged rooftops of Little Italy as the moon, full and blue, pushed through the haze to illuminate the garden.

"You have a tree!" Enza exclaimed.

"How many trees did we have on the mountain?" Ciro asked. He put his hands in his pockets and stood back from her, observing her delight.

"A million."

"More," Ciro remembered. "And here, all I have is this one tree, and it's more precious to me than all the forest below Pizzo Camino. Who would have thought that one tree could bring me so much joy? I'm almost ashamed."

"I understand. Any small thing that reminds me of home is a treasure. Sometimes it's small—a bowl of soup that makes me think of my mother—or it's a color. I saw a blue parasol in the crowd this afternoon that reminded me of the lake by the waterwheel in Schilpario. It's the kind of thing that catches you unaware and fills you with a deep longing for everything you once knew. Don't apologize for loving this tree. If I had a tree, I'd feel the same."

Ciro wished he had more time to talk with her.

What are you reading today? Will you read The Shoemaker's Wife? Check out our Q&A with Trigiani for more.

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