Who she is: Bestselling author Adriana Trigiani unfurls the epic tale of her grandparents’ love story in her latest book, “The Shoemakers Wife.”
What she does: This is the newest title in a series of more than a dozen that the woman who formerly wrote for “The Cosby Show” thought would be the first book she penned.
Why she does it: “I have to be honest,” she says. “I thought ‘The Shoemaker’s Wife’ would be the first thing I ever wrote because it is such a compelling love story. But I didn’t have the experience to tell it. I couldn’t figure out how to crack the story with such a big story. It is my grandparent’s love story, so I also felt a sense of obligation that I tell it in the best possible way. So, I waited.”
A Dance with Fate
By Hope Katz Gibbs
Publisher, Inkandescent Women magazine
“I don’t know how Adriana Trigiani goes into her family’s attic and emerges with these amazing stories, I’m just happy she does,” says bestselling author Kathryn Stockett of Trigiani’s newest release, “The Shoemaker’s Wife.” “If you are meeting her for the first time, get ready for a lifelong love affair.”
That endorsement from the author of “The Help” is typical of the buzz around Trigiani’s epic tale of Ciro Lazzari and Enza Ravanelli—the fictional characters who depict the real lives of her grandparents and their sweeping, international love affair.
The story begins in the Italian Alps in 1905, and takes readers through New York City in the 1920s, the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, and both World Wars.
For fans who have been following Trigiani’s award-winning work for years, this ambitious story is a departure from her first novel; the 2000 hit “Big Stone Gap.”
In that story, this sassy Italian American with a big sense of humor introduced readers to the equally audacious Ave Maria Mulligan—who, like Trigiani, who grew up in a hamlet nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The twist in this tale is that Mulligan, the trusted pharmacist who has been keeping the townsfolk’s secrets for years, discovers a skeleton in her own family’s closet, and it blows the lid right off her quiet, uneventful life.
That bestseller did the same for Trigiani — although her life to that point had been anything but uneventful. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, the woman who dreamt of becoming a playwright gained acclaim instead as an award-winning writer for such TV mega-hits as “The Cosby Show,” and “A Different World.” She was also the executive producer/head writer for the “CityKids” series, for Jim Henson Productions; and her Lifetime television special, “Growing up Funny,” garnered an Emmy nomination for Lily Tomlin.
“Those years shaped me as a writer as I learned from the masters, and made a nice living,” shares Trigiani who, during that period met her husband Tim Stephenson, the Emmy-winning lighting designer of “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
After tying the knot, and deciding it was time to start a family, Trigiani began her writing career.
“The Shoemakers Wife” was always in the back of her mind, but sat dormant as she published 12 other books.
“I would return to this story in between the work on my other novels and noodle with it,” she explains. “There are many scraps of paper, including dinner napkins and the backs of old bills with a long line drawn across as I fiddled with the timeline. There are old notebooks filled with my grandmother’s musings that I wrote down as far back as 1985.”
When her fans began telling her at book signings and through email that they wanted something more grandiose in scope than “Lucia, Lucia,” and “Brava, Valentine,” Trigiani knew it was time to finally finish the story that she considered her grandparents’ “dance with fate.”
“This is 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,” the author insists, crediting a team of summer interns and her favorite librarians with helping her get the historical details just right. “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 my grandmother, the woman who lived them.”
Indeed, it’s hard not to get absorbed in the saga that unfolds on 475 pages. And without giving away too much of the poignant ending, this deep, profound romance ends with great loss.
“In the book, I tried to take the pain and make something beautiful from it, because often in life that’s all you can do,” Trigiani concludes. “Moving through the pain is what gives us wisdom—and unfortunately, we can’t have that without walking through that fire.”
And it sure does make for a great book.
For more information about the author and this bestselling book, visit www.adrianatrigiani.com.
Want to see Trigian’s favorite recipes? Many appear in her novels, including Cousin Dee of BIG CHERRY HOLLER’s Peanut-Butter Balls, Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake from MILK GLASSMOON, Our Lady of (Drown Your) Sorrows Consolation Cake from ROCOCO, BIG STONEGAP’S Hope Meade’s Mints, Mama’s Wedding Cookies from THEQUEEN OF THE BIGTIME, and Viola Perin’s Fish Brodetto from LUCIA, LUCIA. Click here to learn how to make these delicious dishes.