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.
Trigiani brings us into the heart of an Italian family living in New York City. Valentine lives in an apartment with her Grandmother above the family owned custom-made shoe store that they own and operate. It is a small business as they only create wedding shoes, but it has obviously proven to be a lucrative business as it has been operating for a hundred years.
Valentine seems to come from a normal size Italian family with two sisters and one brother, but boy do they have big attitudes! She also seems to be the one unlucky in love as all of her siblings are married except for her. To all of her relatives she is known as the sweet girl that put her life on hold to help out her Grandmother, only to get left behind in the romance department. But there is plenty of romance in this novel to keep Valentine busy!
I really enjoyed the family relationships within this novel. Although Valentine has a close knit relationship with both of her sisters you can feel the tension between her and her brother Alfred. She sees Alfred as only being around when things go wrong, so he can be the hero that picks up all of the pieces. Valentine cannot understand why Alfred feels like he always has to fix everything. I really got a kick out of both of her parents. Her mother set the tone in the family that aging is unnecessary by having the plastic surgery that no-one ever talks about. Even though her mother made a fashion statement every time she stepped out of her front door, you could feel the love that she put into that family every day of her life.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when Valentine and her Grandma take a business trip to Italy. Valentine sees a side of her Grandma that she didn't know existed as they embrace the easy lifestyle of the Italian countryside. Even though they are on a business trip Valentine learns more about herself, including why her relationships keep failing. Here is an excerpt from page 306 that explains a typicaly working American:
We're typical overextended, overworked Americans with the worst kind of tunnel vision. We waste the present for some perfect future we believe will be waiting for us when we get there. But how will we get there if we don't build the connection now?
The elements in this book just worked so well together. I just loved hearing about the different types of food, fashion references, romance lost and romance found, and especially the dynamics of the family relationships. This is the first book in the trilogy and if you are a fan of Trigiani you will definitely want to pick this one up. I can't wait to read Brava, Valentine next!
My Rating: 4/5
Disclosure: This book was provided to me from HarperCollins through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
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