Review: The Shoemaker’s Wife

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Triogi

If you’re of Italian descent, you’ll love The Shoemaker’s Wife. If your ancestors came over as immigrants, you’ll enjoy the story. If you love opera, you’ll get a thrill. If none of the above, you’ll still learn a lot.

This historical novel, based somewhat on the author’s own family, was popular with our book discussion group. Most said that it was a fast read with an engrossing story. I, too, read it quickly, but by skipping over wordy or repetitive passages. The story could have been tighter, especially toward the end. Perhaps the author tried to do too much by spreading the story over too many generations.

Readers will be very interested in the character’s lives and will learn much about the immigrant experience, about village life in Italy, the Italian culture, and even the Metropolitan Opera in and about 1920. I enjoyed that very much.

One club member mentioned that there were too few “bad guys”/ antagonists and that there were too many goody-two-shoes characters. To be fair there were several bad guys, but they were dealt with quickly and posed no sustained threats to the main characters.

The author uses wonderful imagery which drew me in at the beginning of the story. She also described Enza’s (the shoemaker’s wife) reaction to the death of her little sister very well. Therefore, I was disappointed in Enza’s reaction to the death of her husband for whom she had pined for most of her life. There are a few other inconsistencies or soft spots, but they shouldn’t deter a perspective reader from enjoying the story as a whole.

One quibble: Why that cover? I understand that it is a photo previously used in Harper’s Bazaar in 1949. What does that depiction have to do with the gist of the story? The heart of the novel is much more earthy and familial than the fancy woman in the image would suggest.

Read and enjoy.

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