Published: February 3, 2009
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Meet the Roncalli and Angelini families, a vibrant cast of colorful characters who navigate tricky family dynamics with hilarity and brio, from magical Manhattan to the picturesque hills of bella Italia. Very Valentine is the first novel in a trilogy and is sure to be the new favorite of Trigiani's millions of fans around the world.
In this luscious, contemporary family saga, the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of exquisite wedding shoes since 1903, is one of the last family-owned businesses in Greenwich Village. The company is on the verge of financial collapse. It falls to thirty-three-year-old Valentine Roncalli, the talented and determined apprentice to her grandmother, the master artisan Teodora Angelini, to bring the family's old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century and save the company from ruin.
While juggling a budding romance with dashing chef Roman Falconi, her duty to her family, and a design challenge presented by a prestigious department store, Valentine returns to Italy with her grandmother to learn new techniques and seek one-of-a-kind materials for building a pair of glorious shoes to beat their rivals. There, in Tuscany, Naples, and on the Isle of Capri, a family secret is revealed as Valentine discovers her artistic voice and much more, turning her life and the family business upside down in ways she never expected. Very Valentine is a sumptuous treat, a journey of dreams fulfilled, a celebration of love and loss filled with Trigiani's trademark heart and humor.
I've seen this book described as Sex in the City meets Moostruck. While there is some merit to that description, I think it sells the book a bit short. Trigiani has created a world within this book. At the center is Valentine, a woman in her early 30's who has started to discover her calling as a cobbler. Throw in one of the most entertaining families in literature, complete with all sorts of family drama, and a business that is at a crossroads and Valentine has her hands almost full--there is, of course, still room for romance.
Yet, even Valentine's romance is something more than readers might expect. Valentine deals with some real issues about balancing her career, her boyfriend's career, and their relationship. Her struggles are realistic and well conveyed by Trigiani.
About halfway through this book, the action moves to Italy and here is where things became a bit dreamy for me. I love Italiy and Trigiani has a real knack for bringing it to life for the reader. I loved Trigiani's voice and descriptions of Arezzo and Capri--the later I once visited as a young teenager and now am itching to revisit!
I will admit that my enjoyment of this book was hampered a bit, though no fault of the book. Very Valentine is the first in the trilogy and I recently read the final book, The Supreme Macaroni Company, without knowing that it finished this trilogy. Thus, I went through this book already knowing how Valentine and the rest of the characters would end up. But, as I said, I can only blame that on my own ignorance.
Very Valentine is a lighter read--which is perfect if you are looking for something purely entertaining, but not fluffy. I heartily recommend it and will be starting part two, Brava, Valentine, very soon!
I was not solicited for this review and received no compensation for this post.