Trigiani does a wonderful job evoking Lucia’s beloved, homey Greenwich Village and the couture-clad Upper East Side. Vivid, too, are the descriptions of Italian cooking and feasting, and the Sartoris’ storybook hometown in the old country.
[Trigiani] writes with commanding authenticity about Italian-American life, the landscape of Italy, and New York City.... Lucia, her Italian family, her ambitious girlfriends, her colorful boss, and her mysterious lover are colorful, poignant characters, representative of another time, yet as real as today.... Trigiani has proved she is a multi-faceted writer whose name and stories will be celebrated for years to come.
In 1950 Greenwich Village, 25-year-old Lucia has it all: a warm and loving Italian family, a papa with a successful grocery business, an engagement ring from her childhood sweetheart, and best of all, a career she loves as a seamstress and apprentice to a talented dress designer at B. Altman's department store. When Lucia meets a rich, handsome businessman whose ambitions for a luxurious uptown lifestyle match her own, her goals for her future soar even higher. Over the next two years, however, her dreams gradually unravel. Sorvino is well-cast as the narrator of Trigiani's (Milk Glass Moon) first-person tale. She ably conveys the confidence, eagerness, and romantic yearnings of youth, as well as the guilt Lucia suffers when she disappoints her loved ones. Sorvino is also adept at providing voices for a large cast of characters: the rich Italian accent of Lucia's father, the scolding tone of her mother, the shy voice of her sister-in-law and the smooth, movie-star tones of the rich stranger Lucia pins her hopes on. This is an engaging, well-told tale about life's unexpected twists and turns, the ways that even small choices have large repercussions and the hopeful notion that sometimes, when you least expect it, you can find happiness.
Trigiani here leaves the rural Virginia setting of her "Big Stone Gap" trilogy for New York City. Kit, an aspiring playwright, agrees to afternoon tea with "Aunt" Lu, an old, but still elegant, fellow tenant. Kit's casual question about Lu's frequently worn mink coat is rewarded by the story of two pivotal years in Lucia Sartori's life. For the bulk of the novel, we are swept back to Greenwich Village in the early 1950s, where we meet Lucia's family. Beautiful and talented Lucia, who works in the custom dress shop at B. Altman's, wants to retain her maiden name after marriage, continue in a nonfamily business, and delay having children, all taboo for an Italian Catholic. Then she meets the irresistible John Talbot, and Lucia's happy life seems destined to unravel. Trigiani creates a compelling story, artfully uniting a snapshot of the past with the present. This bittersweet novel should have broad appeal. —Rebecca Sturm Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights
Adriana Trigiani’s enchanting new novel will find a warm welcome from every reader who has encountered a fork in the road to love and taken the more perilous path.... A testament to the power of familial love and friendship.... Perhaps [this] is Trigiani’s greatest gift to her reader: the recognition that devotion, loyalty, and forgiveness will ultimately win the day.
A heartfelt depiction of homespun characters whose emotions are always very close to the surface.... Trigiani offers an inviting picture of Italian life as well as a finely detailed appreciation of Old World craftsmanship. —Joanne Wilkinson
More like a big, sloppy wet kiss to Greenwich Village than anything as mundane and unromantic as a novel: Trigiani's fourth (after Milk Glass Moon, 2002, etc.) starts off in extremely unpromising territory but thankfully doesn't stick with it for long. Narrator Kit is a flighty writer of universally rejected plays and an occasional journalist who lives in the Village and is given to mundane reflections on just how wonderful her neighborhood is. Fortunately, she doesn't have much of a life, so when her neighbor—a charming, gracious old lady everyone calls Aunt Lu—invites her in for some tea and ends up telling Kit the story of her life, Kit has no good reason to say no. In the early 1950s, Lucia Sartori lived with her large Italian family in the Village, where her father and brother ran the beloved Groceria food market. Lucia herself, still in her 20s and considered the neighborhood beauty, worked in the custom clothing section in the grand B. Altman's department store on Fifth Avenue and was engaged to the most promising bachelor around, Dante DeMartino. Spunky Lucia, though, breaks the engagement when she discovers that the DeMartinos expect her to leave work and live with them as a cleaning, cooking, baby-producing housewife. It isn't long before Lucia gets snapped up by John Talbot, a rakishly handsome man-about-town who's vaguely employed in the importing business (alarm bells clang in everyone's head, except for that of the normally bright Lucia). Trigiani is mostly interested in Lucia's relationships with her coworkers and family, only intermittently cutting back to her blossoming romance with John. But she knows how to deliver on basic desires: her story is filled-to-bursting with gorgeous clothes, sumptuous meals, beautiful weather, and the rhapsody of New York City. Where it runs into problems is with its humans: solidly depicted but never quite lifelike. Silly but romantic stuff, written in a state of never-ending swoon.
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