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.Read more...
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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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 37.
- Review Date: 2008-11-03
- Reviewer: Staff
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. (Feb.)
Trigiani's latest is a delicious delight
Anyone who's ever read an Adriana Trigiani bookoh, who are we kidding? No one ever reads just one of Trigiani's wonderfully quirky tales. Once you pick up the first, you are hooked by her all-too-human characters and their sprawling families. So let us rephrase: Anyone who's ever devoured Trigiani's books knows what you're going to geta lot of fun delivered with a lot of heart.
Lucky for us, Trigiani has embarked on a new trilogy centered on a 30-something Italian-American custom shoemaker living in Greenwich Village. In Very Valentine, we meet Valentine Roncalli, who in her close-knit family is known as "the funny one." Single and living with her beloved Gram, Valentine is focused on mastering the art of shoemaking while bringing the family's business into the 21st century.
When she meets Roman Falconi, chef of the new Manhattan hot spot Ca' d'Oro, Valentine is smitten but weary of trying to balance work and love. Her business is floundering, and she needs to focus on the biggest opportunity ever to come to the Angelini Shoe Company: a contest to design a wedding shoe for the winter window display at Bergdorf Goodman. When Valentine travels to Italy with her Gram to find inspiration for the design, she studies with a master cobbler and learns she's not just a shoemaker but an artist.
"New York City is everything to me," she says, "but I know now, in the frenzy and the noise, amidst the urgency and rush, that the voice of the artist can be drowned out in the pursuit of making a living. . . . an artist needs time to think and to dream."
Valentine also finds something else she wasn't expecting: Gianluca, an intriguing Italian man who makes her re-evaluate her life and relationship back in Manhattan.
Trigiani fills her pages with snappy dialogue and luscious descriptions of both the Italian food her characters love and their surroundings, whether it's New York or the island of Capri. Reading Very Valentine is like tucking into a plate of homemade manicotti: irresistible and delicious.
Amy Scribner writes from Olympia, Washington.