Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Books: The Shoemaker's Wife

The Shoemaker's Wife
By Adriana Trigiani
Copyright 2012
Approx. 15 hours (Audio)

I have read or listened to almost all, if not all, of Adriana Trigiana's books. The author is from Southwestern Virginia, which makes her a hometown girl, and for that reason alone I take pleasure in her work.

While I still think her Big Stone Gap book series is her best work, her recent books about shoemakers in New York (Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine) have also been entertaining.

The Shoemaker's Wife takes us back in time to the immigrants who came to America to learn the trade of making shoes. Two young boys, Eduardo and Ciro, are orphaned after their father dies and their mother leaves them at a convent because she cannot care for them. The story follows Ciro for a while, then switches to Enza, a stalwart, hard-working young woman whose destiny is entwined with Ciro's, and back again.

The story is told in third person omniscient, always an interesting point of view and one not seen in many new works these days. I always like it.

It is always better for me to be listening to long books while I am in the car, and this one was no exception. The story at times grew lengthy and I think some strong editing would have made the book better, but all in all it was a nice addition to Trigiani's work. Having read her earlier pieces I could see where this story was coming from, and had an idea of where it was going.

Trigiani is strong in character study and she's good with description. This book took advantage of both, probably a good thing since it was a little short on plot. It would not be unkind or wrong to call this a literary romance, for boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl-again truly is the plot line.

The details of the time period are nicely done and since I have not been to Italy or Minnesota, and it's been quite some time since I was in New York, I found her descriptions interesting. Some might find them a little long-winded, though.

The only issue I had with the audio CD was a change in readers about half way through the book. At the end of the book, the author (who was the last reader) explains that this change of voice was done to emphasis the change in locale and time and to create a radio-play type of feel to the audio book. Unfortunately I found it a little jarring - the first reader was quite softspoken and feminine, and Trigiani - well, she's from around these here parts and has a tougher, louder, voice. It's not an unpleasant voice, but the two did not mesh. While I understand what the author wanted to do with the switch, the end result was more along the lines of "good grief, what happened, did they run out of money to pay the reader?" than I suspect was intended.

If you're a fan of Trigiani, and I hope you, then this is another good read for you. If you're just finding her, you might want to start with another of her works before you tackle this one.

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