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.

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The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden

The Richest Season

Synopsis (Publisher): After more than a dozen moves in 25 years of marriage, Joanna Harrison is lonely and tired of being a corporate wife. Her children are grown and gone, her husband is more married to his job than to her, and now they’re about to pack up once more. Panicked at the thought of having to start all over again, Joanna commits the first irresponsible act of her life. She runs away to Pawleys Island, South Carolina, a place she’s been to just once. She finds a job as a live-in companion to Grace Finelli, a widow who has come to the island to fulfill a girlhood dream. Together the two women embark on the most difficult journey of their lives: Joanna struggling for independence, roots, and a future of her own, as her family tugs at her from afar; and Grace, choosing to live the remainder of her life for herself alone, knowing she may never see her children again. Entwined is Paul Harrison’s story as he loses his wife, his job, and everything that defines him as a man. He takes off on his own journey out west, searching for the answers to all that has gone wrong in his life. One thing remains constant: He wants his wife back. Joanna, however, is moving farther away from her old life as she joins a group dedicated to rescuing endangered loggerhead turtles, led by a charismatic fisherman unlike anyone she’s ever met.

My take:  The Richest Season is a beautiful story about two women striking out on a new path in life. Joanna is starting over on her own terms. She’s not sure where she’s going but if she has to leave her home she’ll go where she wants this time. Grace knows where her path will lead and she’s determined to do things her way. She has a plan.

After Joanna makes her life-changing decision life throws her husband a curve ball that sets him on his own journey of change. It’s an important facet to the story that I thought ultimately made the novel’s resolution possible.

Maryann McFadden’s book is one of discovery, reflection and forgiveness. The two women support each other through difficult times as each navigates her way through challenging circumstances.  I loved the setting, the characters, and the themes. I think book clubs would have lively discussions about the choices made by Grace and Joanna in The Richest Season.

Narration:  I thought Cassandra Campbell’s performance was wonderful. She’s quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators.

  • Title:  The Richest Season
  • Author:  Maryann McFadden
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Narrator:  Cassandra Campbell
  • Published:  2008 – Tantor Audio
  • Source:  I bought it.

Audio Briefs

wallflower in bloomSynopsis (publisher):  Deirdre Griffin has a great life; it’s just not her own. She’s the around-the-clock personal assistant to her charismatic, high-maintenance, New Age guru brother, Tag. As the family wallflower, her only worth seems to be as gatekeeper to Tag at his New England seaside compound. Then Deirdre’s sometime boyfriend informs her that he is marrying another woman, who just happens to be having the baby he told Deirdre he never wanted. While drowning her sorrows in Tag’s expensive vodka, Deirdre decides to use his massive online following to get herself voted on as a last-minute Dancing with the Stars replacement. It’ll get her back in shape, mentally and physically. It might even get her a life of her own. Deirdre’s fifteen minutes of fame have begun.

My take:  This was an entertaining novel about a rather odd family. The parents are former Dead-heads.  The only son is as described in the synopsis: a New Age guru. He’s the family moneymaker. There are assorted other family members who only make Deirdre feel move inadequate. In fact, Deirdre’s entire family makes her feel that way. 

When the proverbial straw appears in the form of her loser boyfriend’s announcement Deirdre gets drunk and the rest, as they say, is history. One must suspend belief at this point because, as an occasional viewer of Dancing With the Stars, I don’t think this scenario would ever happen. That said, Claire Cook delivers a story that made me laugh. The point is obvious but that’s ok.

I liked the audiobook. Cassandra Campbell’s performance was enjoyable.

art forgerSynopsis (publisher):  On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art today worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye. Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting–a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum–in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery. Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

My take:  I’m an art lover in the most basic sense. Art Appreciation 101 aside, I have no formal art education or talent – just an eye for what I like. I remember hearing about the Gardener Museum heist when it occurred but quickly forgot about it – I was up to my ears in raising three young children at the time. I liked that it was the basis for Shapiro’s novel.

Claire Roth has a notorious reputation in the art world and has tried to live under the radar for the past few years as a legitimate reproduction artist. When given the chance to reproduce one of the stolen Degas paintings she just can’t say no. She makes her deal with the devil for the chance to show her own work.

I figured out the mystery early on so it’s safe to say most readers will (I’m not a mystery fan). Still, I had my doubts about who was behind it – who in Claire’s world knew what, etc.

I liked the descriptions of the Degas paintings –  I googled a few times to see them.

Xe Sands did a fine job with the narration. Her performance definitely increased my overall enjoyment of the book.

Source:  I bought both audiobooks.