Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review: Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Here is a summary of Very Valentine from the Harper Collins website:

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. 

My Review:
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.

You can check out more great book reviews at Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday!


Not Everyones Mama said...

I love this kind of book! Great review! Adding it to my list of historical romances to read.

Blodeuedd said...

I read and liked this one, and do wanna read book 2

DCMetroreader said...

Food, fashion and romance -- I'm there! Nice review!

Kathy said...

This was a great book and I have Brava Valentineon my TBR pile.
One of my all-time favorite books is Lucia, Lucia and this is somewhat similiar.

Jo-Jo said...

Heather: I would consider this one more of a modern day fashion/romance with traditional themes.

Blodeuedd: I'm glad you liked it on to the second one!

DCMetroreader: Oh the food....there were even some recipes in the back of the book!

Kathy: I haven't read Lucia,Lucia yet, but I do have it on my shelf at home!

bermudaonion said...

I love Adriana Trigiani and think this series is so much fun!

Jo-Jo said...

Kathy: I think fun basically sums up everything within this book...from the fashion in New York to the villages in Italy.

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I have not read any of Trigiani's books yet but after reading so many reviews I'm adding this series to my list.It's good to know that it is a fun series. I like to read something fun after reading a book with a heavy subject. Great review!

Jenners said...

Everyone seems to love this book and this author. I coudn't imagine having a business making only wedding shoes ... but I guess it would survive in Manhattan!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to give this author a try. I've heard so many wonderful things about her books. Thanks for the review!

Jo-Jo said...

Beth: I know exactly what you mean, it's nice to just read something enjoyable and give your mind a break.

Jenners: Interesting you say that because there was a part of the book that this business did have some struggles.

Anna: This is only the second book I have read by Trigiani but I just love the Italian elements that she adds. I wish I were Italian!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I have a feeling that I will really love these books if I could just get around to reading them. I also usually love books set in NYC, which should be an added bonus for me.

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

I've read so many great reviews of this book and I feel I'm missing out on something so I'm adding it to my Wish List right now. Thanks for a great review!

Booksnyc said...

I loved this book too! I also read Brava Valentine and it is excellent. It gets more deeply into the relationship between Valentine and Alfred. Now I cant wait for Book 3!

Jo-Jo said...

Nicole: I've never been to NYC so I always enjoy books that are set there too.

Lisa: It had a nice blend of the modern world with traditions so I think you would enjoy it.

Booksync: Now I can't wait to get on to the second one to find out more about Alfred!

Darlene said...

Great review. I can't wait to read this.