Author Adriana Trigiani is on to something great. In “Brava, Valentine,” the second of a trilogy, Trigiani gives her readers a long, satisfying look into the life of Valentine Roncalli.
Valentine’s family has been making customized shoes for New York’s well-heeled for several generations. She learned the craft from her beloved grandmother, Teodora who has just returned to Italy to marry her long-time love, Dominic.
A romance between Valentine and Gianluca, her grandmother’s new son-in-law, adds a lot of spice and sizzle.
While Teodora trusts Valentine to be the creative force behind the Angelini Shoe Company, she decides to leave the business side of the family venture in the hands of Valentine’s uppity brother, Alfred.
Valentine and Alfred get on like oil and water, and conflict abounds when Valentine decides to expand the company beyond its capacity, using the services of a long-lost cousin in Argentina; a cousin who just happens to have a factory that can help Valentine realize her dream of a mass-produced line of moderately-priced footwear.
In a March 13, 2009, News-Telegram interview, Trigiani talked about the importance of the research she did for the series.
“The research process helped me appreciate and honor the art of shoemaking. You really never know what you will discover when you begin researching a topic – and I'm always surprised and amazed at the new roads that appear – and how I'm looking for one thing and find another entirely.”
And, of course, the author owns a custmon-made pair of shoes:
“Yes, I own a pair of sandals made by Costanzo Ruocco on the Isle of Capri. What makes them special? Costanzo made them – and there are lavender crystals with silver leather straps and silver mesh embellishments. Bellissima!”
It would be helpful to read Trigiani’s first book, “Very Valentine,” but it’s not 100 percent necessary. Time spent with this loud, big, messy, wonderful extended Italian family is never time wasted.
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