The Shoemaker's Wife - Adriana Trigiani
With all the 5-star reviews, perhaps my expectations of this novel were a little high. It had all the elements of the classics that I love so much - the abandoned child whose few prospects all but disappear by a cruel twist of fate, the star crossed lovers who against all odds meet up again halfway around the world. It had all the makings of a romantic epic in the vein of Jane Eyre, but it somehow managed to fall short. I just couldn't empathize with Enza and Ciro, the central characters. Although Ms. Trigiani described her locations beautifully (I so want to see the Italian Alps for myself!), her characterizations were flat. They came off as cliches of what protagonists should be.

The storytelling itself was also a little dull. I think it would have been more interesting if Ms. Trigiani had taken a non-linear approach. After the opening scene, perhaps she might have skipped to the middle of the story perhaps when Enza and Laura were finally able to find a room to stay in Milbank House and then filled in the history in flashbacks as the story progressed to the end.

Also, as the novel progressed past the 3/4 point, the storytelling seemed to lack direction. It felt like the author couldn't figure out what she wanted the focus of her story to be, so she threw out a wide net and tried to cover everything. I would have appreciated the story far more if rather than skipping a few years and playing out a scene, skipping a few more years and playing out another scene, etc., she had just picked a place to end it Ciro's death would have been perfect and then play out the final scene as an epilogue.

It wasn't a bad story, but I don't think I would have missed out on anything if I had chosen to skip it.