May 30, 2012

The Seamstress & The Shoemaker

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Release Date: April 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 496 pages
Source & Format: Library; Hardcover

Sum It Up
Enza first meets Ciro as a teenager in the Italian Alps. They have grown up in villages only a few miles apart, but it is the first time their paths have crossed. It will not be the last.

Before they have a chance to meet again, Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, is banished from his village and sent to apprentice to a shoemaker in America.

Enza is disappointed to find him gone, but her life goes on. And then her family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to venture to America with her father.

Unbeknownst to one another, they both build lives in America until fate reunites them. But is it too late? Ciro is headed off to war and Enza begins an impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that thrusts her into some of New York's most glamourous circles.

Will these star-crossed lovers meet again?

By Its Cover: Gorgeous!
I don't know about you, but I absolutely love this cover. When I first saw this book in Target, I did a double take and immediately had to pick it up and read the summary. I love the vintage feel, the red dress is stunning and I love the wallpapered wall she's leaning against. Basically, the cover gave me very high hopes for what lay inside.

Amen, Sister Friend: Fell Flat
Personally, I felt that the characters were all a little flat. I didn't really care about them, and I wasn't engrossed by the outcome of their stories. I honestly struggled with this book, which I'll explain in the writing section, but I think that's what kept me from really connecting to the characters.

After spending 500 pages with the characters, I wanted to walk away from the book feeling like I really cared about what had happened to them... but I just didn't.

Literary Love: Undeveloped, Even With 500 Pages
I think the title of this book kind of gives everything away, which really bothered me because it took away some of the dramatic tension. The whole question of "will they or won't they end up together" is basically answered before you ever even open the book.

Not only that, but the love story kind of drove me crazy. Enza is basically in love with Ciro as soon as she meets him, and it doesn't really develop beyond that. It didn't bother me as much when she was a teenager, but it was on my last nerve when she was an adult. The author just tells you that they are madly in love. Their love story is supposed to be a big, sweeping saga. For me, it definitely wasn't.

Word Nerd: Stop Telling & Start Showing
You know how they say show, don't tell? This book is all about telling without very much showing. After 500 pages of being told things, I was getting tired of this book. I wanted to love it like everyone else. But my biggest complaint kept coming back to the same thing - I wanted there to be scenes where I learned things for myself instead of just being told that this was a character quality of someone, that this was how someone felt or that this was what happened.

The pacing is also a weakness. The book covers the characters' entire lives, which can be a really fun book to read. However, it's not good when it leads to problems with pacing. Some portions of their lives lasted a really long time, and others were rushed through. 

You know how the summary says Ciro goes off to war? Well, you'd expect that to be a pretty big portion of the book, right? It's not. He basically leaves and comes back within the span of a few paragraphs. Then, the author tells you how he's changed since the war but she just TELLS you. 

The setting was one of the very best parts of this book. I love reading about Italy and New York in the early 1900s. This story was inspired by the author's grandparents, which gave it a cool backstory and grounded it in history. I don't read many books about immigrants, so that was also a plus.

So Quotable
"Enza was so moved by his words, she couldn't speak. She knew that a woman can only know two things when she falls in love: what she sees in the man, and what she believes he will become in light of her care."

Bottom Line: Wasn't For Me
I've read several reviews that raved about this book. It has a really good rating on Goodreads. But I just didn't like it and was frustrated for much of the book. I was SO looking forward to a good historical fiction saga. Unfortunately, I struggled with The Shoemaker's Wife. I think that puts me in the minority for this book, so I'd still recommend looking into for yourself if you like historical fiction. I didn't love it, but I know so many people who did!

4 comments:

  1. Oh what a shame. I really like when I pick a book up because of the cover and it ends up being awesome but the opposite is always disappointing :(

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    1. I know! It's the worst when you're REALLY excited about a book & it's been hyped a lot but just doesn't live up to your expectations.

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  2. Aww! This has such a pretty cover that I'm sad the contents don't match. Everything you said about this book would drive me nuts too. Flat characters? Uneven pacing? Instalove? Telling not showing? All big definite nos for me. Thanks for the review, Hannah!

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    1. I've read so many good reviews for this so I don't think other people noticed those things, but they really stuck out for me. Just one of those, and I can usually move past it. All four? MAJOR TURNOFF. I hope people will check it out if they're not interested, but I also want to give people realistic expectations if they do decide to read it. Glad my review helped!

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