If there’s one book that should be on your summer reading list, it’s The Shoemaker’s Wife. It isn’t just a book; it’s an experience. It’s a slow, beautiful, compelling story with which you can’t help but feel involved and enamoured.
No matter what chapter you are on in this book, the setting is always lush and evocative. The Italian Alps captured me during the first half of the book and America, specifically New York, came to life during the latter half. The story follows two main characters—Enza and Ciro—who both lead different lives but their paths delicately begin to intertwine. Their personalities jump off the pages in different ways; Enza is the strong, stoic young woman who is deeply family-minded but also has a will of her own while Ciro is just like a lovable teddy bear. Ciro is a fantastic character. He’s handsome, funny, charismatic, and yet (of course) he carries his own burdens. Full of life and Italian zest, Ciro strives to come to terms with his past and find solace in his future. Meanwhile, Enza learns how to survive in New York City with the help of a steady friend and her own unparalleled sewing skills.
Midway through the book, I thought that the story was progressing at a slow pace, but I soon realized that’s exactly what it was meant to do. It’s like taking a leisurely passeggiata. One doesn’t simply rush through it; one enjoys the surroundings and the quiet company. This book means to have you spend some real time with Enza and Ciro respectively, rather than rushing through climactic plot points. Ultimately it is this strong relationship that you build with the characters and the setting that makes the read a memorable one.
When I read, I never actually register that I am holding a book in my hands and am engaging with words; I simply become one with the story. The Shoemaker’s Wife took this involvement to a whole new level whereby long after I had finished, I still felt very much connected to Enza and Ciro and the taste of the Italian Alps lingered in my mind.
If my endorsement doesn’t do it for you, take it from Kathryn Stockett (author of The Help)—this book is “Utterly splended!”