I love Adriana Trigiani's books. They are full of Italian exuberance, detailing with charming warmth the family stories of northern Italians who emigrated to the USA in the early 20th C, and, with much hardship, forged successful lives there. Trigiani's own ancestors are often the subjects of her novels, and I first came across them when I read her Big Stone Gap series; the sense of community, and Italian family values translated to the US and thriving in that country despite the vast culture gap was, and is, immensely seductive. And she continues this Italian sensibility in The Shoemaker's Wife, a novel crammed with love, disappointment, warmth, and seasoned with delicious Italian food. That's a beguiling mixture, and it's hard to resist. The Shoemaker's Wife begins with an adventure at once sad and yet filled with exciting possibility. Two small boys aged five and eight are left by their mother at a convent in the Italian Alps. She is a recent widow, devastated by the death of her husband in faraway pre-Great War America, where, like so many of his compatriots, he had travelled in the hope of making his fortune, working in the productive mines of New Jersey. His death in a mining accident causes his wife to have a nervous breakdown. Hence her abandonment of her two young sons; she consigns them into the care of the nuns on this Italian mountainside, telling them she will come back for them within months. She doesn't. Ciro, and his older brother Eduardo, are left at the convent for ten years, at the mercy of the nuns, who are (fortunately) kind. The boys work hard and are happy. Then their stability and security is destroyed.