Saturday, February 14, 2009

Review: Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Description: 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 have to start by saying that I am a huge fan of Adriana Trigiani's books. I adore the Big Stone Gap series and was thrilled to find out about Very Valentine coming out this month. This is the first book in a trilogy so I can look forward to two more books in this wonderful series. I actually heard about this book from Bermuda Onion in a Mailbox Monday post and then contacted Ms. Trigiani by email and (begged and pleaded) kindly asked if she had an advanced reader copy available. She actually emailed me back herself along with her wonderful assistant. They sent out a personally inscribed copy of the book which made it that much more special!

What can I say, I loved this book. I enjoy hunkering down and being swept away by a contemporary family saga and this book met that criteria. Especially when there are wonderful characters with rich ethnic backgrounds as I believe that this gives a story a depth and richness. Valentine is the main character and we learn about her quirky Italian family that I would love to sit down an enjoy an Italian meal with. The drama alone would make great entertainment. Valentine works as an apprentice under her grandmother Teodora in their family custom shoe business in Greenwich Village in New York. I enjoyed reading about how custom shoes are made and the artistry and skill that goes into the process of what is considered an old world craft. Reading about this process has made me wonder what a custom handmade shoe would feel like, it has to be an amazing experience. This book makes you think about the art of family business and what they must do to survive against the big box companies that mass merchandise our goods. It made me think about the importance of supporting these family run businesses in our own communities. Valentine balances a new relationship with a new beau Roman who is a chef and just opened his own restaurant. I feel like I gained a few pounds while reading this book which includes scrumptious details of all of the wonderful meals the family eats...homemade ravioli, homemade bread dipped in golden olive oil, rich wine, lattes, cobblers and much more. There were a lot of vivid details of color and texture that related to the food and leather and fabrics in the shoes that were made. Reading this book was definitely a sensory experience in itself rich with details that allows the reader to imagine the experience. Along the way, Valentine discovers her artistic side, where her passion lies and she continues to learn and grow in her relationships with her family and with men. Valentine travels to Italy which is a wonderful place for her to grow and experience the culture and connect to her Italian roots. I appreciated Valentine's close relationship with her grandmother Teodora. Teodora was a strong female character who had worked side by side with her husband to carry on their family business. Her family was extremely important to her and she was a pillar of strength and wisdom to them all. She has a very special relationship with Valentine, they have a connection that is unique and strong. My own grandmother is 91 and she has been the pillar of strength in our family and her positive outlook and attitude made a great impact on me as a child. I could relate to this special bond that a grandmother and granddaughter have. I can't wait to find out what happens next in Valentine's life and family in the next book. I highly recommend Very Valentine to fans of Adriana's books or to anyone who has never read her books. Treat yourself, you must read her books!

Go to the Adriana Trigiani Website for more information about her books, book tour, recipes and more.

To read the first chapter of Very Valentine go HERE.

Readers Guide for Very Valentine go HERE.

Make sure to watch this video interview with Adriana Trigiani:


  1. So, for now, I have only read the first paragraph and the last sentence of your review. :) It's going on my iPod today. How very kind of her to send you the book! And I, too, have enjoyed every book I have read by her, although, I haven't read them all. I'm looking forward to this one, Bonnie. (I'll come back after I'm done to finish reading your review.) :)

  2. Great review. Mine will probably be up on Tuesday.

  3. How cool that you went out and got this for yourself! I like how you wrote the review too especially ... "I gained a few pounds while reading." Sounds interesting.

  4. I've sure been hearing a lot of good things about this author. I may have to give one of her books a try one of these days.

  5. I'm so happy to hear that you love this! I love her Big Stone Gap books but haven't read any others. I think I'll see about getting into this one, though.


Thanks for visiting and sharing a comment!