Very Valentine ****
by Adriana Trigiani
An Edible Book Review inspired by Jain at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.
“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.”
This was a fun, quick read, the first book of a trilogy (you can also read book number two which is out now).
You have to love a character described as: “I’m not the pretty sister. I’m not the smart sister either. I am the funny one.”
It was also fun & timely as a theme of a tablescape, using my components from a Christmas table, adding in some shoes, chocolate, rose petals, Valentine votives & some new napkin rings.
“We’ve changed though, the Young Italian Americans. As my generation marries outside our group, our children don’t look as Italian as we do, our Roman noses shorten, the Neapolitan jaws soften, the jet black hair fades to brown, and often directly to blond. We assimilate, thanks to the occasional Irish husband and Clairol. As the muse of southern Italian women, Donatella Versace, went platinum blond, so went the Brooklyn girls. But there are still a few of us left, the old-fashioned paisanas who wait for curly hair to come back in style, can our own tomatoes, and eat Sunday dinner together after church. We find joy in th same things our grandparents did, a night out over a plate of homemade pasta, hot bread, and sweet wine, which ends with a conversation over cannolis at Ferrara’s.”
“We are very proud of the components we use to make shoes. Gram travels to Italy every year to buy supplies. When you cook, it’s all about quality ingredients, and the same is true for making shoes. Sumptuous fabrics, fine leathers, and hand-tooled embellishments make all the difference and define our brand. Loyalty plays into Gram’s work ethic also. She buys our leather and suede from the Vechialrelli family of Arezzo, Italy, the descendants of the same tanner my great-grandfather used.”
Food is abundant in this book, which no doubt will continue in this delicious trilogy. . . delicate crab cakes, tiny potatoes with buttons of sour cream and caviar, clams casino, baby lamb chops, roast pork. . .
The requisite bowls of pasta, manicotti, ravioli & lasagna. . . which according to Valentine’s mother’s rule of etiquette, dictates that it must be presented whole, like a welcome home gift~ not with a square missing as to be seen as a leftover :-)
Wine is flowing, olive oil is drizzling, bread is baking. . .
Scents of butter, sage, & warm burgundy wine are just a few that waft from these pages. . .
Instead of cooking any of a dozen meals, I took liberties with this description of Valentine’s father in the book for Food for Thought:
“This is a man who would sprinkle grated cheese on cake if he could.”
So I am serving a cheesecake sampler, with a well-heeled server in honor of the Angelini Shoe Company (and my husband’s birthday :-)
“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.”
Napkins & Napkin Rings/ Pier 1
Glass Shoes & Handbags/ Hobby Lobby
Well Heeled Server & Velvet Shoes/ Home Goods
The winner of my giveaway by Random Number Generator is Slyvia at Slyvia’s Simple Life~
email me, Slyvia and I’m make arrangements to get your gift cards to you!