This first-in-a-trilogy is a frilly valentine to Manhattan's picturesque West Village, starring a boisterous and charmingly contentious Italian-American family. Valentine Roncalli, adrift after a failed relationship and an aborted teaching career, becomes an apprentice to her 80-year-old grandmother, Teodora Angelini, at the tiny family shoe business. While Valentine struggles to come up with a financial plan-and shoe design-to bring the Old World operation into the 21st century, her brother, Alfred, is pushing Gram to retire and sell her building for $6 million. It's not all business for Valentine, of course: handsome and sophisticated Roman Falconi, owner and chef at a posh restaurant, is vying for her heart. Bestselling Trigiani channels ambition and girl-power, but is surprisingly reserved-and retro-when it comes to romance: "[O]ur relationship has to build slowly and beautifully in order to hold all the joy and misery that lies ahead," thinks Valentine. Still, this genteel and lush tale of soles and souls has loads of charm and will leave readers eager for the sequel.
In Trigiani's (Big Stone Gap) launch of a new trilogy, 33-year-old Valentine attempts to save her family's custom shoe business while dealing with family and relationship dramas set against the backdrop of New York City and Italy. If she's going to realize her dream of becoming a master shoemaker, Valentine must come up with a plan to rescue the financially troubled family wedding shoe business and prevent her brother from selling the building (located in Greenwich Village and worth millions) for a quick profit. In addition, Valentine has a new man in her life, sexy restaurateur Roman, who is just as dedicated to his business as Valentine is to hers-leaving little time for romance. In the midst of it all, Valentine travels to Italy with her grandmother Theodora to buy supplies and later rendezvous with Roman for her birthday. Things go well for Valentine professionally, but her personal life is more up in the air. This, as well as the many entertaining characters introduced, leaves plenty of material for the two books to come. Nicely written with vivid images of high fashion, New York City, and traditional Italy, Trigiani's latest is sure to be eagerly anticipated by her many fans and attract some new readers. Recommended for all public libraries.
Karen Core - Library Journal
Trigiani’s closing is satisfying, even as it paves the way for the lovable heroine to reappear in a planned sequel. —Annie McCormick
Food, shoes and romance feature prominently in this zesty novel of an Italian-American family, the first in a planned trilogy following the life of Valentine Roncalli. A few years ago Valentine left teaching for something entirely different: She moved in with her grandmother Teodora and became an apprentice cobbler. Angelini Shoe Company, a longtime fixture in Greenwich Village, is an old-world establishment that provides custom-made wedding shoes. Valentine learns from 80-year-old Teodora, whom she calls "Gram," the skills of shoemaking and running a business, but she eventually discovers that Gram doesn't have a head for numbers. Their beautiful building (the shop and showroom is downstairs, their apartment occupies the upper floors) has been borrowed against over the years, and now they can't possibly make enough shoes to cover the new mortgage. Brother Alfred wants the building sold (it's worth millions) and Gram put in a retirement community, but Valentine and Gram cling to the hope that the family company can prosper in the next century. While Valentine tries to save the company (it may all depend on winning a shoe competition at Bergdorf's) she meets sexy Roman Falconi, chef extrodinaire. The two have lots of heat and lots of issues—between the demands of his restaurant and her shoe shop, they rarely see each other. After months of a simmering relationship, Roman promises he'll meet Valentine on Capri, at the tail end of the buying trip she's making with Gram. Italy is an eye-opening experience—the hills of Tuscany, the wine, the leather and the big surprise, Gram's longtime lover Dominic. His romantic son Gianluca is also a bit of an eye-opener for Valentine—if she's so in love with Roman, then why does Gianluca look so damn good? Rich descriptions of beautiful things—a Greenwich Village rooftop garden, the Blue Grotto of Capri, a bounty of well-made meals, sexy men in sweaters—create a (not quite) fairy tale of guilty pleasures. Things may not work out perfectly for Valentine in this first installment, but Trigiani (Home to Big Stone Gap, 2006, etc.) offers plenty of reasons to stick around for part two.
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