Supreme Macaroni Company (Trigiani)

The Supreme Macaroni Company  (Valentine Trilogy, 3)
Adriana Trigiani, 2013
HarperCollins
352 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780062136589



Summary
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 on a fateful Christmas Eve when Valentine and Gianluca join her extended family. 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. (From the publisher.)

This is the final book of the Valentine Trilogy. The first book is Very Valentine (2009); the second Brava Valentine (2010)



Author Bio
Birth—1960
Where—Big Stone Gap, Virginia, USA
Education—B.A., St. Mary’s College, Indiana, USA
Currently—lives in New York, New York


As her squadrons of fans already know, Adriana Trigiani grew up in Big Stone Gap, a coal-mining town in southwest Virginia that became the setting for her first three novels. The "Big Stone Gap" books feature Southern storytelling with a twist: a heroine of Italian descent, like Trigiani, who attended St. Mary's College of Notre Dame, like Trigiani. But the series isn't autobiographical—the narrator, Ave Maria Mulligan, is a generation older than Trigiani and, as the first book opens, has settled into small-town spinsterhood as the local pharmacist.

The author, by contrast, has lived most of her adult life in New York City. After graduating from college with a theater degree, she moved to the city and began writing and directing plays (her day jobs included cook, nanny, house cleaner and office temp). In 1988, she was tapped to write for the Cosby Show spinoff A Different World, and spent the following decade working in television and film. When she presented her friend and agent Suzanne Gluck with a screenplay about Big Stone Gap, Gluck suggested she turn it into a novel.

The result was an instant bestseller that won praise from fellow writers along with kudos from celebrities (Whoopi Goldberg is a fan). It was followed by Big Cherry Holler and Milk Glass Moon, which chronicle the further adventures of Ave Maria through marriage and motherhood. People magazine called them "Delightfully quirky... chock full of engaging, oddball characters and unexpected plot twists."

Critics sometimes reach for food imagery to describe Trigiani's books, which have been called "mouthwatering as fried chicken and biscuits" (USA Today) and "comforting as a mug of tea on a rainy Sunday" (New York Times Book Review). Food and cooking play a big role in the lives of Trigiani's heroines and their families: Lucia, Lucia, about a seamstress in Greenwich Village in the 1950s, and The Queen of the Big Time, set in an Italian-American community in Pennsylvania, both feature recipes from Trigiani's grandmothers. She and her sisters have even co-written a cookbook called, appropriately enough, Cooking With My Sisters: One Hundred Years of Family Recipes, from Bari to Big Stone Gap. It's peppered with anecdotes, photos and family history. What it doesn't have: low-carb recipes. "An Italian girl can only go so long without pasta," Trigiani quipped in an interview on GoTriCities.com.

Her heroines are also ardent readers, so it comes as no surprise that book groups love Adriana Trigiani. And she loves them right back. She's chatted with scores of them on the phone, and her Web site includes photos of women gathered together in living rooms and restaurants across the country, waving Italian flags and copies of Lucia, Lucia.

Trigiani, a disciplined writer whose schedule for writing her first novel included stints from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. each morning, is determined not to disappoint her fans. So far, she's produced a new novel each year since the publication of Big Stone Gap. I don't take any of it for granted, not for one second, because I know how hard this is to catch with your public," she said in an interview with The Independent. "I don't look at my public as a group; I look at them like individuals, so if a reader writes and says, 'I don't like this,' or, 'This bit stinks,' I take it to heart.

Extras
From a 2004 Barnes & Noble interview:

• I appeared on the game show Kiddie Kollege on WCYB-TV in Bristol, Virginia, when I was in the third grade. I missed every question. It was humiliating.

• I have held the following jobs: office temp, ticket seller in movie theatre, cook in restaurant, nanny, and phone installer at the Super Bowl in New Orleans. In the writing world, I have been a playwright, television writer/producer, documentary writer/director, and now novelist.

• I love rhinestones, faux jewelry. I bought a pair of pearl studded clip on earrings from a blanket on the street when I first moved to New York for a dollar. They turned out to be a pair designed by Elsa Schiaparelli. Now, they are costume, but they are still Schiaps! Always shop in the street—treasures aplenty.

When asked what book most influenced her life as a writer, here is what she said:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. When I was a girl growing up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, I was in the middle of a large Italian family, but I related to the lonely orphan girl Jane, who with calm and focus, put one foot in front of the other to make a life for herself after the death of her parents and her terrible tenure with her mean relatives. She survived the horrors of the orphanage Lowood, losing her best friend to consumption, became a teacher and then a nanny. The love story with the complicated Rochester was interesting to me, but what moved me the most was Jane's character, in particular her sterling moral code. Here was a girl who had no reason to do the right thing, she was born poor and had no connections and yet, somehow she was instinctively good and decent. It's a story of personal triumph and the beauty of human strength. I also find the book a total page turner- and it's one of those stories that you become engrossed in, unable to put it down. Imagine the beauty of the line: "I loved and was loved." It doesn't get any better than that! (Bio and interview from Barnes & Noble.)



Book Reviews
Trigiani explores the delicate balance (and unbalance) between work, family, and love.... [O]ften hilarious.... A twist near the end of the book is not unexpected, but tense shifts get a little dizzying.... Trigiani’s ability to bring the large, warm, enveloping—if somewhat dysfunctional—family to life will keep any reader engrossed and entertained.
Publishers Weekly


Trigiani's latest introduces readers to Val Roncalli, shoemaker and member of a boisterously loud Italian American family...announces that Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner, has proposed to her. More shocking is that Val has accepted.... Val's eccentric family keeps the book going at a quick pace, distracting readers from Val's insecure baby steps toward marital bliss. —Mara Dabrishus, Ursuline Coll. Lib., Pepper Pike, OH
Library Journal


The third in a trilogy about the life of Valentine Roncalli. Trigiani re-enters familiar territory here, both in that this book follows two previous novels about the Roncalli family and in that it has many of her hallmarks: sprawling Italian families, old-world craftsmanship, and melodious love letters to New York City and Italy.... Fans of Trigiani's Valentine books will find plenty of fodder here.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
1. Describe Valentine and Gianluca's relationship. Is he the true love she has waited for?

2. What are the biggest obstacles to their happiness as a couple? What are their greatest strengths? What does Val expect from marriage? How does the reality compare? What makes for a good marriage? Is it realistic to want it all?

3. Think about the advice Val received from her family. If you are or have been married, what advice would you give her? If you aren't married what do you think marriage might be like?

4. Is Gianluca a good husband? Is Valentine a good wife? How much can their differences be attribute to age? To gender? To culture? Do you think they found the right balance in their relationship?

5. Is having such a large and close family like the Roncalli clan a blessing? Are there any downsides? What is your family like? How do our families impact our romantic relationships?

6. Talk about Val's wedding. Do you like the idea of a big wedding? If you are married, what was your day like? If not, what kind of wedding would you like to have?

7. Keeping secrets partially define Val and Gianluca's relationship. What information do they keep from each other and how do they affect the course of their lives? What is the biggest secret they each keep from the other?

8. Gianluca wants them to live in Italy. Why doesn't Val want to? Is it possible for them to live part time in both NewYork and Italy while still building the business?

9. Val not only married an older man,she married one who was married before. How do both of these facts shape her marriage? What is it like for her to meet Gianluca's first wife? Why doesn't he like to talk about his first marriage with Val? Why does she need to know about his past?

10. What does building the business mean to Valentine? Is Gianluca right—does she put her ambition ahead of her family? How do we juggle both? How does Val?

11. How does Alfie impact their relationship and Val's ambitions?

12. Were you surprised about the turn of events toward the end of the novel? How does Val handle this change? How does her family help her get through it? Should Gianluca have told her about the house? Didn't she have a right to weigh in with her opinion? Did he do the right thing?

13. What do you think the future holds for Val?

14. Discuss the books title. Do you think it is appropriate for the story? What did Val gain in this novel? What lessons did she learn?

15. What did you take away from reading The Supreme Macaroni Company?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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