Sunday, January 31, 2010

'Brava, Valentine' Shares Both the Joyous and Heartbreaking Realizations of Life

They live in New York and New Jersey. They're part of a large Italian family. They run a family business. They have ties to the "old country." Sounds like The Sopranos, but it actually describes the family in Adriana Trigiani's newest novel Brava, Valentine. It follows the first book in the Valentine series, Very Valentine, and continues to chronicle the Angelini/Roncalli family as they cook, live, and love.

Valentine Roncalli is a thirty-something shoemaker who has never been married and who has lived for the past several years with her Gram in an apartment above the family's Angelini Shoe Company. In Very Valentine she became more active in the development of the company, and in this newest installment she continues that trend. However, Valentine meets a whole new host of difficulties in both her personal and her professional life in this novel.

She must carry the reins of the company as her Gram sets out on adventures of her own and leaves Valentine as head designer and chief executive officer. Complicating matters is the inclusion of other family members as employees. Valentine also becomes involved once again with the Italian gentleman Gianluca (pronounced John-lukka) who she met in her travels to Italy in Very Valentine. There are also family mysteries -- both old and new -- and business deals to be made. Valentine's best friend Gabriel moves in with her and redecorates the old family apartment, which both thrills and saddens Valentine. The more things change, the more she wishes they would just stay the same -- and yet, she longs for more.

With the Angelini-Roncallis, Trigiani has once again created a family readers can care about, as she did in her bestselling Big Stone Gap series. The Valentine series is both similar (Valentine is a thirty-something woman who has sacrificed her personal life in her devotion to family, like Ave Maria, and Italy serves as a secondary setting as it does in the Big Stone Gap books) and different (the main setting is big-city New York versus small-town Virginia; Valentine has many siblings, while Ave Maria is left alone after the deaths of her parents).

There are no murders or car chases in Trigiani's novels, primarily because she does something different: she writes about real life in all its small intricacies, and she makes it interesting enough that she doesn't have to pull any additional punches. Her characters are ones we sympathize and identify with, even through our differences. And setting is ultra-important and well-executed. Valentine's New York fairly jumps off the page, from the cobblestone streets outside the Angelini Shoe Company to the Hudson River as viewed from Valentine's rooftop garden.

A favorite line from the book: "Love builds in a series of small realizations," written in a letter from Gianluca to Valentine (or Valentina, as he calls her).

Brava, Valentine will be released in hardcover on February 9, 2010. O Magazine has already named the novel one of its 10 books to watch for this month. Trigiani will be on tour for the novel this spring; check out the dates to see if she's coming to a bookstore or library near you! Also, see her on the Today show on February 10 to discuss the novel with Hoda and Kathie Lee.

Additionally, Lifetime Television is partnering with Trigiani to bring Valentine to life in a television movie, and Trigiani is working hard on bringing the Big Stone Gap series to the big screen.

Trigiani gives a tour of Greenwich Village and discusses her inspiration for the Valentine series:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Joanna. I think the covers of these Valentine books are just wonderful. Love them. I haven't read Very Valentine yet but I plan to. I enjoyed the walk through New York with the author.



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