Title: Very Valentine
Author: Adriana Trigiani
No. of Pages: 367
First Released: 2009
Synopsis (Courtesy of Joseph-Beth Booksellers): “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.”
Comments and Critique: If ever a book could be considered sensual, as in evoking all five sense, Very Valentine is it. In the spirit of Italians everywhere, Ms. Trigiani draws on our visual senses through her use of bright colors in her descriptions, on our olefactory, auditory and taste senses through her use of cooking and food and New York/Italy settings, and on our sense of touch through her descriptions of fabrics. Reading Very Valentine is a sensory experience that has the effect of the reader being aware of his or her own unique sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and sights. For that alone, it is worth the read.
The reader also gets the added pleasure of an introduction to a charming heroine. Valentine is a mold-breaker, one who follows her own path, after first breaking that path. She struggles with balancing tradition with her own more non-traditional ideas, eventually understanding that some traditions are meant to evolve and change, while the reader cheers her on each step of the way. As Valentine grows in self-awareness, the reader cannot help but be satisfied and celebrate that growth.
At the heart of it all, Ms. Trigiani created a love story. Through Valentine, she shows the reader to love yourself, that you must know who you are before you can be worthy of love, that while love does not require sacrifice, it does require effort. These are extremely important lessons to learn, but Ms. Trigiani makes the lessons more palatable through her loving but crazy Italian family.
The best part is that one does not need to be Italian to truly appreciate Ms. Trigiani’s efforts. Her characters are alive, vibrant, flawed, and best of all, human. One can recognize your father, mother, siblings, and other extended family members in each of the characters – those things that drive one crazy but make each family unique and lovable. Very Valentine is a delight in the truest sense of the word. It is a light, fun book that makes you want to cook, to express your love to your family, and celebrate your family traditions. What can be much better than that?
Thank you to Carrie from Nomad Reader for this copy! I won it as part of her mini-challenge during the April Read-A-Thon. This book meets the requirements for the 100+ Reading Challenge, the Read ‘n Review Challenge, and the Rainbow Reading Challenge.