The third in a trilogy about the life of Valentine Roncalli.
Trigiani (The Shoemaker’s Wife, 2012, etc.) re-enters familiar territory here, both in that this book follows two previous novels about the Roncalli family and in that it has many of her hallmarks: sprawling Italian families, old-world craftsmanship, and melodious love letters to New York City and Italy. Narrator Valentine Roncalli is (as she frequently declares) an artist, designing shoes for a small, family-owned and -run shoe company. As the novel begins, she is being proposed to by Gianluca Vechiarelli, an Italian purveyor of fine leathers 18 years her senior. Readers are told immediately of several possible conflicts in this marriage, outside of the age difference: Both characters have layered romantic pasts; neither are sure how Gianluca will fit in with the shoe business; and he’d prefer to live in Italy. These issues mostly simmer in the background as the book plods through the next few years of their life together. The beginning is largely devoted to the lavish wedding Valentine’s family plans for them. Then it’s back to the shoe business, a lovely trip to Tuscany and the birth of a daughter. The simmering issues come to a boil at intervals throughout but rarely spur character change. While the narration is exposition-heavy, readers unfamiliar with the first two Valentine books may have trouble fitting the pieces together.
Fans of Trigiani's Valentine books will find plenty of fodder here.