The Shoemaker's Wife: A Novel - Adriana Trigiani Purple prose monster alert:
purple monster photo: purple monster purple-monster.gif

This is the first paragraph:
The scalloped hem of Caterina Lazzari’s blue velvet coat grazed the fresh-fallen snow, leaving a pale pink path on the bricks as she walked across the empty piazza. The only sound was the soft, rhythmic sweep of her footsteps, like hands dusting flour across an old wooden cutting board.

And on and on the descriptions continue throughout the book. Some might call the book lush or descriptive, but for me it was just too much. Scenery details are great, but when more time is spent on the details than on the story itself we have a serious problem. There were things that could have been better developed, like the love story. The purpose of the book was to tell this great love story, but instead this plot line came second to everything else. There was too much telling and not enough showing. I felt like they married because they both had some experiences in common rather than they were actually in love.

The thing is the story was a good one. The characters were developed really well, although I think Enza could use more some more airtime being that the book’s title implies she is the focus of the book. Which brings me to another point…the title of the book is rather misleading. The whole shoemaking bit doesn’t take place till more than halfway into the story and it doesn’t define the story. I’m also resentful that Enza is even described as The Shoemaker’s Wife because her character is much more than that. Why spend time developing her into a hardworking, independent female to then define her as the shoemaker’s wife? It makes no sense.

What Trigani does do well is relate the immigrant experience. The book is divided into three parts. The first part describes Ciro’s and Enza’s childhoods in Italy, the second part is their individual American experience and the third part is life after marriage. While I really enjoyed the first and second parts of the story, the third part lagged for me. Somehow the story lost a bit of its luster during this part. By the end I was ready for the conclusion because I felt like Trigani was starting to stretch the story to wrap up all threads in a warm and happy box. There is nothing wrong with a feel good type of book, but this particular story had so many clichés, coincidences and plain old cheese that it put most Hallmark movies to shame. In case you don’t know…I effin’ hate Hallmark movies. >:(

So while I enjoyed parts of this book I didn’t enjoy the whole thing. I found myself skimming much of the over descriptive paragraphs and suspending belief every time a coincidence happened. I recommend this for readers who like their Hallmark movies in book form.