Nostalgic collection by the bestselling author of the Valentine series and Big Stone Gap series.
The author’s grandmothers, Lucia Spada and Yolanda “Viola” Perin, both from working-class Italian immigrant backgrounds, knew the score in home economics, maintaining a nice figure, sex and marriage. Trigiani (Brava, Valentine, 2010, etc.) draws on their forthright skills in fashioning a comfortable home for their families in this righteous primer for the virtuous life. Viola grew up on a farm in Delabole, Pa., where her parents began work in the Slate Quarry upon their immigration from Veneto in 1906. Viola met her husband while working at a pants factory in Bangor, Pa., and eventually they started their own mill in Martins Creek, the Yolanda Manufacturing Company, which operated successfully until the late ’60s. Viola lived most of her life in an opulent Tudor home in Flicksville, not far from the mill, where she entertained friends, maintained cars “of the moment” and generally lived the good life. Similarly, Lucia, born in Italy, immigrated to New York City with her father in 1917, and found work as a seamstress in a Hoboken, N.J., factory. Relocated with her new Italian husband to Chisholm, Minn., she made a success as a couturiere as well as running a shoe shop, which sustained her and her three children after her husband’s died when she was 35. What did these hardworking ladies impart to the author, who visited their homes as a child and closely observed them? They both pursued careers while raising their children; they never threw anything away, having both known poverty (when asked why she only owned three dresses, Lucia replied: “How many can I wear at one time?”); they both had sprezzatura (“effortless style”); they never retired, never remarried and kept up impeccable reputations; and they bought their own homes. Their child-raising skills, moreover, come across as charming if apocryphally rose-colored.
Corny but comforting lessons for readers seeking a simpler way of life.