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The themes Trigiani is working with aren't revolutionary. She's looking at how three generations of independent, intelligent, and resourceful women sort through the complexities of nurturing and balancing self, family, career, and love. What she does that's so refreshing is create a world that is distinctly urban, ethnic, and hip.
Told through the eyes of 30-something Valentine Roncalli, Campbell takes us inside her struggles to understand and navigate the journey to love. With her gift for emotional intimacy, expressing Valentine's conflicts and qualities is where Campbell's narration is most satisfying. But she also finds a great terrific range of nuances to differentiate the many voices of this big New York Italian family. Using variations in accents, pace, and tone, you know the character's age, attitude, and role in the family easily. And watch for the Thanksgiving dinner scene - Campbell's comic timing is as smooth and delicious as the tiramisu.
Campbell has a thoughtful warmth to her narration that fits beautifully with Trigiani's exploration of the two-steps-forward, one-step-back path to love. Valentine Roncalli is a woman who works hard to learn and grow as a person, and Campbell opens a window into her heart that resonates, staying with you long after the story ends. - Nancy Carter
Very Valentine, an instant New York Times best seller and the first in a series about the life of shoemaker Valentine Roncalli, introduced the contemporary saga of the Roncalli and Angelini families, artisans of handcrafted wedding shoes in Greenwich Village since 1903.
As Brava, Valentine begins, snow falls like glitter over Tuscany at the wedding of her grandmother, Teodora, and her longtime love, Dominic. Valentine's dreams are dashed when Gram announces that Alfred, "the prince", Valentine's only brother and nemesis, has been named her partner at Angelini Shoes.
Devastated, Valentine falls into the arms of Gianluca, a sexy Tuscan tanner who made his romantic intentions known on the Isle of Capri. Despite their passion for one another and Gianluca's heartfelt letters, a long-distance relationship seems impossible. As Valentine turns away from romance and devotes herself to her work, mentor and pattern cutter June Lawton guides her through her power struggle with Alfred while best friend and confidante Gabriel Biondi moves into 166 Perry Street, transforming her home and point of view. Savvy financier Bret Fitzpatrick, Valentine's first love and former fiancé who still carries a torch for her, encourages Valentine to exploit her full potential as a designer and a businesswoman with a plan that will bring her singular creations to the world.
A once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine from the winding streets of Greenwich Village to the sun-kissed cobblestones of Buenos Aires, where she finds a long-buried secret hidden deep within a family scandal. Once unearthed, the truth rocks the Roncallis, and Valentine is determined to hold her family together. More so, she longs to create one of her own but is torn between a past love that nurtured her and a new one that promises to sustain her.
Brava, Valentine is Trigiani's best novel yet, delivering a hilarious and poignant mix of colorful worlds and unforgettable characters as only she can create them, proving once again she is "one of the reigning queens of women's fiction" (USA Today).
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Lee on 10-12-11
Chick lit gone awry
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Such a disappointing read. The story was tedious and overly long.....more than 11 hours. Probably 3 hours of actual plot and the remaining time spent musing over lost love, to-love-or-not-to-love, career vs. love, family, friendship, etc. Felt like chick lit trying to be a literary experience. Have enjoyed the author's previous books. Not sure I will attempt another one.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Patti on 05-30-11
Not the Best of Author and Narrator
Although this book was enjoyable, it did not have the "snap" her previous books have had. Like someone else said, I kept waiting for more to happen. It also seemed to recant the love woes of a teenager with Valentine's going back and forth about Jeanluca (sp?). The other parts of the book, relating to family relations, were better.
I had to go back and see who narrated "Very Valentine" as Campbell was not at her best in this book, as well. It seemed she was always talking in a breathless, quiet "I am about to tell you a secre" voice regardless of what was being said. I don't remember it being that way in her previous narrations.
All in all, if you like Trigiani, you will like this. And I wanted to keep up with the series. But it isn't her best work.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful