The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani is a love story that spans a lifetime, yet also brings us so much more. Enza’s family lives modestly in the Italian Alps, the family’s meagre income supplemented by Enza’s talented stitchery. Ciro lives with his brother Eduardo in the local convent, having been left there by their mother as young boys. Although they live in neighbouring villages, Enza and Ciro only meet as teenagers. They begin to develop a friendship just as Ciro is forced to leave his mountain home after catching the local priest in a scandal. Ciro is sent to America and begins an apprenticeship as a shoemaker. Shortly afterwards, Enza and her father also travel to America to earn money to build a house for their family.
While Ciro and Enza both begin to make their way in America, they do not meet up again until a chance encounter just as Ciro is about to leave to fight in World War I. While Ciro is away in the War, Enza’s sewing talents lead her and dear friend Laura, into a glamorous life in the Metropolitan Opera House, sewing for the great Enrico Caruso. Laura and Enza are living a beautiful life and Enza is set to marry when Ciro returns from the War to take up his shoemaking career. Such is the love story of Enza and Ciro, their paths cross and part until finally the title of the book is fulfilled and they leave the bright lights of New York and begin their life together in Minnesota.
Trigiani’s story does not end with the final uniting of Ciro and Enza as there is so much more to their story than the chance encounters that bring them together. Both characters have made lifelong friendships in their new American life, and maintain their strong family ties; these are an integral part to their story as their journey continues, strengthening the beautiful and historical tapestry that is the story of the shoemaker and his wife.