Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

  • Title:  Kiss Carlo
  • Author:  Adriana Trigiani
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  544
  • Published:  June 2017 – Harper
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing: business is good, they’re surrounded by sympathetic wives and daughters-in-law, with grandchildren on the way. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match. 

Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more—more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer. When he admits to his fiancée that he’s been secretly moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theater company, Nicky finds himself drawn to the stage, its colorful players and to the determined Calla Borelli, who inherited the enterprise from her father, Nicky must choose between the conventional life his family expects of him or chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes.

From the dreamy mountaintop village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy, to the vibrant streets of South Philly, to the close-knit enclave of Roseto, Pennsylvania, to New York City during the birth of the golden age of television, Kiss Carlo is a powerful, inter-generational story that celebrates the ties that bind, while staying true to oneself when all hope seems lost.

Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this novel brims with romance as long buried secrets are revealed, mistaken identities are unmasked, scores are settled, broken hearts are mended and true love reigns. Trigiani’s consummate storytelling skill and her trademark wit, along with a dazzling cast of characters will enthrall readers. Once again, the author has returned to her own family garden to create an unforgettable feast. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love, and the abiding power of la famiglia.  (publisher)

My take:  Adriana Trigiani is back with a tale about a big family who live in South Philadelphia. It’s the post-WWII years and people are optimistic about getting back to finding the American dream and all that entails. Trigiani’s characters are relatable yet sometimes larger than life. They have important lessons to learn and are mostly grateful when they do. Most important was finding one’s true purpose and how to recognize it when it appeared. As serious as that sounds there are also laugh-out-loud moments. As in all of her novels, Trigiani’s attention to detailed descriptions left no question in my mind what the setting in any given scene looked like. Her novels often seem cinematic to me and I’d love to see this one on the big screen. With a nod to Shakespeare and Italian operas, Trigiani has written a very heartfelt and entertaining novel. I enjoyed every page.


 

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani

The Supreme Macaroni Company audio

  • Title:  The Supreme Macaroni Company (#3 Valentine series)
  • Author:  Adriana Trigiani
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Narrator:  Cassandra Campbell
  • Published:  November 2013 – Harper; Harper Audio
  • Sources:  Publisher (print copy); I purchased the audio

Synopsis:  For over a hundred years, the Angelini Shoe Company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This historic business partnership provides the twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the school teacher turned shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past . . . and a secret. 
A piece of surprising news is revealed at The Feast of the Seven Fishes when Valentine and Gianluca join her extended family on a fateful Christmas Eve. Now faced with life altering choices, Valentine remembers the wise words that inspired her in the early days of her beloved Angelini Shoe Company: “A person who can build a pair of shoes can do just about anything.” The proud, passionate Valentine is going to fight for everything she wants and savor all she deserves-the bitter and the sweetness of life itself.
Romantic and poignant, told with humor and warmth, and bursting with a cast of endearing characters, The Supreme Macaroni Company is a sumptuous feast of delights: a portrait of a woman and the man she loves, her passion for craftsmanship, and the sacrifices it takes to build and sustain a family business while keeping love and laughter at the center of everything.  (publisher)

My take:  The Supreme Macaroni Company is the final installment of the Valentine series. I’ve been a fan since I first met Valentine Roncalli in Very Valentine. She’s a modern, sometimes confident, usually headstrong woman who is intent on keeping her family’s shoe company in business.

Val knows what she wants and one of those wants is Gianluca – the love of her life. Where Val is modern, American and in her 30s, Gianluca is a traditional Italian and in his 50s. These two don’t always see eye to eye but they never lose sight of their love for one another. When they marry Valentine must learn to compromise – easier said than done. Gianluca wants to take care of her and sometimes makes decisions without consulting Val. This causes some rocky times in the early days of their marriage.

What Val learns is that a willingness to sacrifice and compromise from a place of love will be a blessing to them both. Adriana Trigiani’s story is emotional and at times had me in tears so have some tissues handy. I’m going to miss the Roncallis and all the rest – maybe in five or ten years we can convince the author to let us know what’s going on in their lives.

Audio:  Cassandra Campbell’s narration is first rate. Her performance of Valentine and the other characters enhanced my enjoyment of the book.

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Title:  The Shoemaker’s Wife

Author:  Adriana Trigiani

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Published:  April 2012 – Harper

My take:  Ciro and Enza grew up in the same area of Italy and that’s where they met when they were teenagers. Events kept them from being together for many years until they finally found their way to each other – in America. Ciro had been sent there because of something he witnessed back home. Enza and her father were working to earn money to build a new family home back in Italy.

The Shoemaker’s Wife is the fictionalized story of Adriana Trigiani’s grandparents. And what a story it is. It could be the story of many Americans’ grandparents. They experienced such hardships as they struggled to make a new life and yet most came through it with humility and appreciation for all they had. It made me wonder if I would be up to the same struggles as my great-grandparents who came from Ireland.

Trigiani’s detailed descriptions paint vivid pictures of the Italian and American countrysides, the gorgeous fabrics used to make costumes for the Metropolitan Opera company, and the sights and sounds of Little Italy. I found The Shoemaker’s Wife to be both heart-breaking and uplifting. The 20th century was a time of great change in America. Immigrants from all over the world played a major part in that change. Trigiani’s novel is a loving gift to her grandparents and to ours.

Recommended to:  fans of Adriana Trigiani and historical fiction.

Source:  Harper

Disclosure:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani


Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani: Book Cover


Brava, Valentine begins on a day filled with happiness in Tuscany. The sparkling snow that falls reflects the spirit of the Roncalli/Angelini family. Their beloved matriarch Teodora is marrying Dominic Vechiarelli. The octogenarians kept their relationship a secret for many years but finally decided to marry. Adriana Trigiani had me laughing at the family antics as they prepare for the wedding. Dominic’s son is at the wedding. Gianluca Vechiarelli made quite an impression on Valentine on her last trip to Italy (Very Valentine). She definitely feels something for him when she sees him at the church but things don’t go as she would hope. From the reception on, surprises seem to come at her full force. Life is changing.

Teodora will live with her new husband in Italy while Valentine takes the reins at the Angelini Shoe Company back in Greenwich Village. There are challenges to be faced: a new business partner; a long-time employee who hints at retiring; the need for a business loan to launch a new shoe line; a possible new branch on the family tree to check out; and a long-distance romance. Valentine is full of energy and up to the challenges at work but something is missing in her life. Gianluca (17 years her senior) is very interested in her as she is in him yet how can they make it work? He is in Italy and she is across the Atlantic. He sends romantic letters that get her attention but can she possibly be the woman he seems to idolize?

Trigiani takes the reader to Italy, New York, and Buenos Aires. I loved the descriptions of the different locations. It was also fun to read about Valentine’s friend and new roomie Gabriel as he redecorated the living space above the shoe company. The rooftop garden never looked so good! I also enjoyed the descriptions of shoe design and manufacturing.

This is a very romantic book – I loved it. I can’t wait for the next book in this wonderful series.

Brava, Adriana Trigiani.


Review copy from HarperCollins

 

Viola In Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani

Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani: Book Cover

Synopsis

I’m marooned.
Abandoned.
Left to rot in boarding school . . .
Viola doesn’t want to go to boarding school, but somehow she ends up at an all-girls school in South Bend, Indiana, far, far away from her home in Brooklyn, New York. Now Viola is stuck for a whole year in the sherbet-colored sweater capital of the world.
Ick.
There’s no way Viola’s going to survive the year—especially since she has to replace her best friend Andrew with three new roommates who, disturbingly, actually seem to like it there. She resorts to viewing the world (and hiding) behind the lens of her video camera.
Boarding school, though, and her roommates and even the Midwest are nothing like she thought they would be, and soon Viola realizes she may be in for the most incredible year of her life.
But first she has to put the camera down and let the world in.

* * * * * * *

Viola In Reel Life is the story of Viola Chesterton, age fourteen. Viola’s parents are documentary film-makers who are going to film in Afghanistan. They’ll be gone a year and Prefect Academy is the perfect place for Viola to spend that year. She hates leaving her BFFs back in Brooklyn – how will she ever get along without them?
At first, I thought Viola was a spoiled, self-centered girl. But I reminded myself of her age and the fact that her life was changing virtually overnight. I thought she seemed a bit too glib, too precocious in the opening chapters but I warmed up to the character and enjoyed seeing how she coped with her new life, new friends, new school, etc.
I’ll be recommending this book to my niece who is fifteen and rarely seen without a book. I think she’ll enjoy reading about Viola. I know I did!


Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani: Book Cover

Blurb from the ARC: In this contemporary family saga, the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of custom wedding shoes since 1903, is one of the last family businesses in Greenwich Village. The company is on the verge of being wiped out by the spiraling Manhattan real estate market and the overwhelming availability of factory-made goods. On the brink of disaster, the business falls on the shoulders of thirty-three-year-old Valentine Roncalli, the talented but unsuspecting apprentice, to bring her family’s old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century to save the company from financial ruin.
While juggling a romantic relationship with dashing chef Roman Falconi, her duty to her family, and a design competition for a prestigious department store, Valentine accompanies her grandmother and master artisan Teodora to Italy in the hopes of finding the inspiration and elements that she needs to win. There, in Tuscany and on the Isle of Capri, she discovers her artistic voice and much more, turning her life around in ways she never expected.
With a vibrant cast of memorable characters, the rich terrain of intergenerational family dynamics, the lush backgrounds of magical Manhattan and enchanting Italy as seen through the eyes of an artist, Very Valentine, the first novel in a new trilogy, is sure to be a favorite of fans and an irresistible invitation to new readers.
Adriana Trigiani is back in a big way. She has created a wonderful character in Valentine Roncalli. And the good news is that Very Valentine is the first of three books – yay! I found my visit to Valentine’s Manhattan and Capri quite enjoyable. In fact, I’m ready to book a trip to Capri. Trigiani’s attention to detail and her ability to describe in a way that doesn’t make my eyes glaze over is quite wonderful. And, at this point, she has me ready to shell out for some good Italian leather flats.

What has me impatient for the second book is the story of Valentine. She is a real and relatable character. I can’t wait to see which direction her life takes in the next installment.

Watch for the release of Very Valentine this February 2009. You can read more about the author and her previous books here.
My thanks to Adriana Trigiani and HarperCollins for sending the ARC.