26 Down, 24 to Go: The Shoemaker’s Wife

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani is an epic novel–a story about family, love, work, relationships, home, and so much more.

The story follows characters throughout various stages of life and is split into three parts:  Italian Alps, Manhattan, and Minnesota.  From the author:

“The Shoemaker’s Wife has been my artistic obsession.  I have long been fascinated by my grandparents love story because it was a dance with fate.  It’s one of those stories that had so many near misses against the landscape of world events that it’s a wonder they got together at all. My challenge was to present their world to you, beginning in the Italian Alps in 1905 in all its truth and particularity so it might feel it was happening in the moment. The story had to feel fresh, progressive and airy.  I wanted my reader to have the experience I had when stories were told to me by the woman who lived them.”  (Source)

This was a very lyrical story and I grew to care about the characters.  I was so entrenched in the story and so wanted to finish it (and it was due back to the library!) that I woke up early on Sunday and sat reading at the kitchen table for 2 hours – time flew and I needed a box of tissues by my side.  The ending was very sad and heart-felt but don’t let that dissuade you from reading the book!

Here’s a great video that tells you more about Trigiani’s inspiration for the book:

It’s going to be hard to top The Shoemaker’s Wife so it’s back to my bookshelves to find my next read!  It’s going to be a push to make it to 50 Books in 2012!

22 Down, 28 to Go: Midwife of Venice

If you’ve been following my 50 Books in 2012 reading list, you may have noticed that I enjoy reading historical fiction.  My mom and I pass books along to one another and she recently gave me The Midwife of Venice to read.  This book, by author Roberta Rich–born in Buffalo, New York, lives in Mexico and Vancouver.

The Midwife of Venice takes place in 16th Century Venice, Italy, and tells the story of midwife Hannah Levi.  This passage from Rich’s website explains:

One night a Christian nobleman, Conte Paolo di Padovani appears at Hannah’s door in the Jewish ghetto with an impossible request. He implores Hannah to help his dying wife and save their unborn child. But a Papal edict has made it a crime, punishable by death, for Jews to render medical treatment to Christians. The Conte offers her a huge sum of money, enough to enable her to sail to Malta to ransom her beloved husband, Isaac who has been captured at sea and is a slave of the Knights of St. John.

I have traveled to Venice a few times and love everything about the city.  It is very mysterious and vibrant and reading this story brought back memories of walking down un-named streets and getting lost in the hustle and bustle of the diverse city.

This is another great summer/beach read.  Or in my case, airplane read.

What are you reading?  Have you been to Venice or other cities in Italy?