Enza and Ciro grew to adolescence in the mountains of Italy, their lives crossing one another but never meeting, until Ciro arrives to help bury her little sister and the two are pulled into a saga of near misses and everlasting love that lasts for decades. Ciro learns that he must leave the convent where he has been living, bound to be a shoemaker’s apprentice in America. Enza stays with her family, but as they begin to lose everything to horrible luck and heartache, she finds herself on a boat, also headed to America. In some stroke of luck in the overcrowded city, they find one another again-but the timing is not right and they divide to follow their separate destinies. She gets low-level work in a factory and meets a friend who convinces her that they can do better, giving her the strength to pursue dreams she never thought she deserved to realize. She finds herself in the job of her dreams, a seamstress at The Metropolitan, creating costumes for the opera singers, and she finds a man who immediately adores her, and they become engaged. In the meantime, Ciro leaves to serve America in the Great War. But Enza has not seen the end of Ciro. The two meet again, and she finds that she must answer the questions that have haunted her since that first kiss on the mountain in the Italian Alps. Can she say goodbye to Ciro, for once and for all?
This is a novel about everlasting love, destiny (both manifested and otherwise), following your heart and taking risks in the pursuit of happiness. More than anything, this is the story of two Italian Immigrants trying to make their way to happiness in a time when everything was against them. The reality of this novel will strike the more sensitive readers brutally. Lives are lost, hearts are broken, and greatest fears are met-this tale is beautiful and moving, and at times, unbelievably heartbreaking.
If you loved The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman, The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough, which address love at it’s most painful and families that endure unbelievable strain, then this novel, The Shoemaker’s Wife, by Adriana Trigiani, is a must-read for you. And don’t be put off by the slow start-the story gets much better than you expect. I Promise.