I have a 45 minute bus ride each way to and from work. If you know me, you know that I’m a bit of a germaphobe, so this time can be sweat inducing, what with all the coughs, sneezes and what nots around me. I use reading to lose myself. I’m totally focused, and pretty much oblivious to everything around me. This also means I get through a lot of books, around 1 a week or so. I’ve become very friendly with my library…it takes me back to my childhood when mum would take me to the library, wait outside or come back (amazing mum she is!) while I patiently scoured the shelves.
There was an art to it. I’m not a book snob, I’ll devour pretty much anything, in any genre. I would grab a massive pile, lug them to the counter and check them out. When I got home, I would re-read the blurbs, and stack them in order of preference. Then I’d dig in…often way past my bedtime, tucked in bed, the only light source coming from the hallway. Possibly explains why my eyes are so shit.
I still do that now. Once I get the books home, I sit cross legged on the floor, wondering which I should read first. The books are all lined up in little piles near my side of the bed.
Anyway, I digress.
I’ve been reading a lot from Ms Adriana Trigiani lately. You see, I’m going on a trip later this year. It involves Italy. Trigiani writes about (mostly) Italy. It’s a match made in heaven. Everything I’ve read to date has been what you would call grown up chick lit. Grown up cos the writing is good. Really, really good. The characters are deep, stories intense, all under the backdrop of lush Mediterranean skies.
The Shoemakers Wife takes us from the Italian Alps, New York City and Minnesota. The story revolves around Enza, a practical Italian beauty and Ciro, an orphaned boy living at a neighbouring monastery. A chance meeting one evening sets the tune for a dance of fate that unfolds over decades. For different reasons, each have to leave the home & family they have known all their lives, and set out to America, the land of opportunity. Their courageous journey is one that struck a chord with me. Imagine leaving everything you know for a land far far away, where the language, customs and culture is so different to your own. Both Enza & Ciro yearn for their ‘mountain’, and use this yearning to help fuel their ambitions in their adopted country.
Ciro finds comfort in his trade, while Enza is drawn to the beauty of the Opera. The book is packed with larger than life characters, from Enrico Caruso and other opera greats to Laura, Enza’s best friend. The pace is fast and the writing is evocative. New York city itself could be another character here. I loved reading about Little Italy and the turn of the century city bustling with opportunity at literally every corner. Enza’s determination and loyalty to her family is admirable, while Ciro’s carefree, love of life is contagious.
What I admire about the writer is her ability to pack so much in to relatively short books. It’s a quick read, but warning, I was not only shedding a tear but actually sobbing.
This book would appeal to anyone who liked the Bronze Horseman trilogy.