Adriana Trigiani’s Brava Valentine has arrived just in time to blow the small-town Texas cobwebs off the family saga genre. Her affectionate and hilarious study of the Roncalli family is smart, contemporary, and cliché free. And Cassandra Campbell’s warm and emotionally rich narration captures the many colors of the threads that weave this family together perfectly.
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
Adriana Trigiani’s best-selling novels are beloved by millions of readers around the world. From the Big Stone Gap series to Lucia, Lucia, each is a sumptuous treat as Trigiani tells hilarious and romantic stories that we want to return to again and again.
Very Valentine, an instant New York Times bestseller and the first in a series about the life of shoemaker Valentine Roncalli introduced the contemporary family 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 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 fiancée who still carries a torch for her, encourages Valentine to exploit her full potential as a designer and a business woman 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.”
©2010 Adriana Trigiani (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers
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.
Addicted to Audible!
I love Adriana's books and this was no exception. There wasn't that much "excitement" in the plot, but the way she tells the story is what makes it fun. I guess part of why I like her writing is that she accurately describes the experiences of Italian American families from NY - the good and the bad. I would love to have lunch with Adriana on the rooftop of the apt in the village, she makes it all come to life!
Maybe I just didn't like the ending but I got very tired of John Luca. I enjoyed the story of the shoe company and Valentine's relationships and professional values - just not her romantic dependence on John Luca. Not nearly as satisfying or interesting as 'The Shoemaker's Wife'.
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.
In my opinion this is not a bad book, not a good book. It is just flat. I like the narrator. I listened to all of it because I kept hoping something would develop. I realize my life is not all that interesting but who would want to read it? We love books because they take us into something better, worse, or exciting,mysterious, scary and/or we learn something new.
He loves me he loves me not is the theme of this one. I have enjoyed most of Trigiani's books but this one is more like teenage angst than anything else. Too bad as it has many elements which would make it great - taking over a business, finding lost relatives but the greatest part of the story is about how lonely the main character is and the agita stirred up by her family.
This has even a great series so far. I love her books. Wonderful, heart-felt stories of romance, family and tradition with complete, happy endings. When I'm in the mood for a wonderful, very well written book, I always reach for Trigiani.
Loved, loved, loved Brava, Valentine. I cried, laughed, and wanted more. Gianluca is the man woman dream of having in their lives. Perfect ending to this book. And now, even though it didn't get great reviews, I will order and read the third in this trilogy.
I love Valentina and her quirky family. I can't wait to see how her life and the rest of her family's lives continue in the next book. Cassandra Campbell is an outstanding narrator.
I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.
Anyone who enjoys Adriana's writing would enjoy this book.
I enjoyed the various characters. Gabriel, Valentine, Aunt Feen and others, came alive with the help of Cassandra Campbell.
I felt she did a number of the voices very well, especially Valentine's mother. The voice of Gabriel was a bit too similar to Valentine's mother but also fairly well done.
I'd call it "Heart on the Line"
I find that Adriana Trigiani's heroines have a seemingly difficult time with commitment in relationships and I sometimes feel as if I need to shake them to get them to take the leap into the relationships that are good for them. These are enjoyable, solid reads.
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