The Angelini Shoe Company, one of the last family owned businesses in Greenwich Village, has been making exquisite wedding shoes since 1903 but now teeters on the brink of financial collapse. To save their business from ruin, thirty-three-year-old Valentine Roncalli—apprentice to and granddaughter of master artisan Teodora Angelini—must bring the family’s old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century. Juggling her 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 in a quest to build a pair of glorious shoes to beat their rivals. And in the course of discovering her true artistic voice and so much more in la bella Italia, Valentine will be turning her life and the business upside down in ways she never expected.
Very Valentine was a book that was recently nominated for a book club read for February. Not being a big romance fan and thinking it sounded a little like fluff, I did not vote for it. I was outnumbered. Very Valentine made it for our February read.
Reluctantly, a week before book club I finally cracked the spine. As I turned the pages of the book I remembered why I love being in a book club. Our book club has introduced me to numerous different books and authors I would not have tried on my own. Genres I didn’t think I would like, authors that were not “my type” have made me a more well-rounded reader. Except for science fiction (I don’t think you will ever convert me there) there is not a book I will not pick up, even if I don’t think, initially, that it’s the book for me.
Very Valentine was a great read, not too heavy on romance and not fluff.
Valentine is determined to save the family business from financial ruin. At first just a cobbler, using her grandfather’s patterns, Valentine realizes that in order to make it in this economy and in this changing world she must come up with something new at a price the average consumer can afford.
Valentine travels with her grandmother to Italy where she learns at the hands of a real artisan and starts to design not only the shoe that could win her the contest to be featured in the Bergdorf Goodman holiday window, but a shoe that could possible save the family business.
Valentine was a real character to me. She is the “funny one” in the family, the unmarried sister, the one of which not much is expected. But when she finally realizes what she wants in life she becomes very determined to get it.
Valentines big, loud, Italian family is the other “character” in this story. Being from a small, quiet family, the allure of a large boisterous family really drew me in. They are a very loving family despite their squabbles and differences.
Adriana Trigiani writes with a very relaxed and familiar style, never forced. It’s easy to pick up the book and immediately feel like you are in your comfort zone. I enjoyed my first Trigiani novel and it will not be my last.
Peppered with mouth-watering descriptions of Italian food and earthy descriptions of the Italian countryside, Very Valentine was a hit with me! 4/5 stars