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Very Valentine: A Novel
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Book Description

Meet the Roncalli and Angelini families, a vibrant cast of colorful characters who navigate tricky family dynamics with hilarity and brio, from magical Manhattan to the picturesque hills of bella Italia. Very Valentine is the first novel in a trilogy and is sure to be the new favorite of Trigiani's millions of fans around the world.

In this luscious, contemporary family saga, the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of exquisite wedding shoes since 1903, is one of the last family-owned businesses in Greenwich Village. The company is on the verge of financial collapse. It falls to thirty-three-year-old Valentine Roncalli, the talented and determined apprentice to her grandmother, the master artisan Teodora Angelini, to bring the family's old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century and save the company from ruin.

While juggling a budding romance with dashing chef Roman Falconi, her duty to her family, and a design challenge presented by a prestigious department store, Valentine returns to Italy with her grandmother to learn new techniques and seek one-of-a-kind materials for building a pair of glorious shoes to beat their rivals. There, in Tuscany, Naples, and on the Isle of Capri, a family secret is revealed as Valentine discovers her artistic voice and much more, turning her life and the family business upside down in ways she never expected. Very Valentine is a sumptuous treat, a journey of dreams fulfilled, a celebration of love and loss filled with Trigiani's trademark heart and humor.

A Note from Adriana Trigiani

The story of this novel began with a lady on a roof. Every morning, I head over to the Hudson River Park for fresh air and a run (just found out the exhaust fumes of the West Side Highway could kill me more quickly than lack of exercise, go figure), and I became obsessed with a woman living on one of the last small buildings facing the river amidst the “progress” of glamorous high-rises and hotels. I’d wonder, “Why does she stay?” Most summer mornings she was in her housecoat tending to tomato plants that line the fence of her rooftop. I never waved or rang her bell, but I connected to her. She reminded me of my grandmothers, who had their own gardens, and for most of their widowed lives, lived alone. I began to look for the woman, and when I saw her, I felt relieved, as though life wasn’t really racing by, and that the past was somehow, in the form of this lady, still alive.

This lady, whose name I do not know and whom I have never met, brought me to the story of Carlo Bonicelli, my grandfather, a shoemaker. I keep a photograph of him on my desk to remind me of the artisans that came before me. (It’s a crowded desktop; those of you who read Lucia, Lucia know about the seamstresses in my family!)

My grandfather Carlo died when he was thirty-nine years old. My grandmother told me that while he repaired shoes and built them, his dream was to design them. He did not live long enough to see his dream materialize. With my grandmother gone, I asked my mother about him, about his work. This wasn’t easy, as my mom cries whenever she talks about her father. As those of you dutiful children out there know, when our mothers cry, it’s like somebody’s plunging a knife into our chests. But this time, I asked her not to cry, and she told me the story of the Bonicelli shoes. Then I went to Italy with my dear pal Gina Casella, (with our five-year-old daughters in tow) to learn how to make shoes. I met a few of the great artisans, who became the inspiration for the shoemakers in this novel.

The trip changed my creative life, but it also changed the substance and course of this story. I come from people who survived by the labor of their own hands in a glorious country of their choice (our United States). I always knew this, but now I understand it. I only live as an artist because they gave me their stories, and because you read them. So, Dear Reader (love it--so Jane Austen!), Very Valentine is for you. It’s about all of us: our family dynamics, our dreams, our luck or lack of it in matters of the heart, and how we negotiate going forward, in a world that’s moving so fast, even a stroll is now a blur. This is the first of three books about Valentine Roncalli and her family of shoemakers. When I wrote it, I wanted to bring you old world craftsmanship, the magical setting of Greenwich Village, in a contemporary family saga told in vivid detail. I hope you enjoy it.



Meet the Roncalli and Angelini families, a vibrant cast of colorful characters who navigate tricky family dynamics with hilarity and brio, from magical Manhattan to the picturesque hills of bella Italia. Very Valentine is the first novel in a trilogy and is sure to be the new favorite of Trigiani's millions of fans around the world.

In this luscious, contemporary family saga, the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of exquisite wedding shoes since 1903, is one of the last family-owned businesses in Greenwich Village. The company is on the verge of financial collapse. It falls to thirty-three-year-old Valentine Roncalli, the talented and determined apprentice to her grandmother, the master artisan Teodora Angelini, to bring the family's old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century and save the company from ruin.

While juggling a budding romance with dashing chef Roman Falconi, her duty to her family, and a design challenge presented by a prestigious department store, Valentine returns to Italy with her grandmother to learn new techniques and seek one-of-a-kind materials for building a pair of glorious shoes to beat their rivals. There, in Tuscany, Naples, and on the Isle of Capri, a family secret is revealed as Valentine discovers her artistic voice and much more, turning her life and the family business upside down in ways she never expected. Very Valentine is a sumptuous treat, a journey of dreams fulfilled, a celebration of love and loss filled with Trigiani's trademark heart and humor.

Customer Reviews:

  • Very Valentine
    This a great book. I appreciate Adriana Trigiani's storytelling ability and the wonderful Italian culture within each of her novels. This book is very heartwarming in that Valentine is very self confident, something many young women do not have. Great for any age group and those that love the culture of Italy....more info
  • Pretty Good
    I've listened to all of Adriana Trigiani's books and don't think this was her absolute best. It's a good story line but I would have liked more for an ending. Does she become a huge designer, does she ever find true love, does she buy Albert out; too many unanswered questions. I don't like to speculate; either state how it ends or say "more to come"....more info
  • Not her best
    I'm a fan of Trigiani, but Very Valentine is not her best. It reads like a Danielle Steel. I did like the scenes of New York and Capri and did learn about shoe making. I'm hoping for better in the sequels....more info
  • Shoes and food - what's not to like?
    I loved this story. Many reviewers had a hard time getting through the story because the author does spend a long time writing about shoes and about food, but since those are two of my favorite things...I loved the novel. Valentine is a shoe artist helping to run the family shoe making business with her grandmother, Teodora. I really found myself drawn in on many levels as Adriana Trigiani described the art of making custom shoes. I just did not realize or ever think about what went into making the beautiful shoes that come from many of the famous shoe designers.

    There is so much that I love about this book, the family history and tradition, Valentine's love interests and how she resolves the different aspects of her love life, the love of family, finding love at any age - I could go on and on.

    And there were different lines that were so meaningful to me but the one that stands out for me was the line ... "Love stays as long as someone remembers".

    I really loved Valentine's story - even the surprise ending! I loved the writing about shoes, food, family and love....more info
  • A very good read
    I really enjoyed this book, it was light and funny. I have enjoyed all of Adriana Trigiani books....more info
  • Very Valentine - Very Good
    As always, Adriana Trigiani gives a delightful, funny, sassy read. Her characters from all her books stay
    with me long after they've been read. Valentine's ambitious career focus, her close family ties and her
    personal liaisons are weaved together making you laugh hard one minute and the next Trigiani is breaking your heart. Great details and wonderful descriptions. If you are Italian-American, it's even more fun. ...more info
  • Awful. Just awful.
    This book is an example of how to put too much description in a novel. I learned everything I never wanted to know about the shoe making process. And oh if I had read one more thing about one of the 5000 fabrics she describes in detail I think I would have simply gone mad. This is certainly not up to par with the other books she has written and I certainly DO NOT intend to follow this series....more info
  • Very Valentine
    For those who have read Adriana Trigiani before, you will not be disappointed in her latest, Very Valentine. In her new book, Trigiani continues her streak of lively, lovable characters and great story telling. As usual, her research into her topics shines through will lots of interesting facts and history-in this case about the art of making shoes. For those new to Adriana Trigiani novels, you're in for a real treat! I can't wait to read more in the series!...more info
  • Love Italian Style via Greenwich Village- with shoes!
    Author Adriana Trigiani captured America's heart with her Big Stone Gap series of books. The town of Big Stone Gap was as important a character in the novels as its protagonist, Ave Maria.

    Trigiani's first novel in her next planned trilogy, Very Valentine, has as some of its most important characters not one, but two, settings- Greenwich Village in New York City and Italy.

    Valentine Roncalli is a single thirty-something woman from an Italian family. She lives and works in Greenwich Village with her beloved grandmother Teodora Angelini at Angelini Shoes, which has been in the family since 1903. They design and create lovely custom shoes, many of which are worn by brides on their wedding day.

    The humorous opening to the novel, at Valentine's baby sister's wedding, sets the tone for the joyous, loving, heartbreaking story to follow. Anyone who has ever attended an Italian wedding will recognize the characters, the food and the decor described. And if you have been a single woman at an Italian wedding, you will commiserate with Valentine's plight.

    Trigiani lives in Greenwich Village, and brings to life this vibrant section of New York; from the breezy Hudson River Park to the Buonitalia bakery in Chelsea Market to cobblestone sidewalks to the newly established tiny restaurants run by the hottest new chefs, this is a place one must visit after reading this novel.

    Valentine reluctantly opens her heart to Roman Falconi, a chef with a new restaurant in the Village. They both have demanding careers, working long hours to make their dreams come true, and they struggle to balance those demands with the loving relationship they want to create.

    Teodora is a vibrant older woman, but she is not free from the restraints of aging. She discovers that her late husband mortgaged the business to keep it alive, but now the time has come to make a decision- sell the building to a broker who will give her enough money to retire comfortably, or try to keep a business going in an increasingly tough economy.

    She takes Valentine to Italy on her annual trip to purchase stock for the shop. It is there, in that beautiful country, that Valentine learns something about her grandmother which helps her to see the situation in a new light.

    Trigiani is a marvelous writer. She does her homework, and the reader learns, along with Valentine, how to design and build beautiful shoes. I'm not a shoe person, but this made me wonder what I am missing.

    She paints a picture of Italy so gorgeous, it makes you want to hop a plane and move there, or at least visit for a month or so. The scenery, the people, the food, the romance, the Isle of Capri- it all sounds so delicious.

    Her characters feel like people you know; I especially liked Valentine's mother and father. The family relationships are so real, you have to wonder if Trigiani's family members are reluctant to be in her presence for fear their words will end up in one of her books.

    It feels like you are spying on real people when you read
    Very Valentine. People struggling with finding and holding onto love, with balancing their career dreams and family, these are things with which we all struggle. If only we could all do it in the scenery that Adriana Trigiani lovingly paints in this funny, sweet, touching novel. I'm definitely looking forward to the next two books in Valentine's saga....more info
  • Glad to hear about the sequel
    I'm glad to see that there will be a sequel to this book as I was left feeling dissatisfied by its ending. While I enjoyed the book and the build-up to the ending, I was left feeling like the book was finished. Not the best way to finish a book, but I still count Adriana Trigiani as one of my favorite authors. ...more info
  • Very Valentine was fantastic!
    I truly loved this book. The imagery, details and descriptions were wonderful. I could see the characters and places like I was there with them. I couldn't put the book down!...more info
  • Very Detailed, not much of a story
    I enjoyed the authors other books, especially Lucia, Lucia. I was hoping for another good book with a strong character, since the last book Rococo, was a let down also. I purchased it on my Kindle and couldn't wait to start it. Then I noticed it became just pages and pages of details, and not enough story. Details about leather, shoes, sunsets, scenery, streets, it went on and on, and I had to skim some pages, because it just got too much.
    With all that money the grandmother could get for the building, why couldn't Valentine just open her own business somewhere else? Financial freedom, to start somewhere fresh, advertise, but no! A simple solution to the story's on and on problem. ...more info
  • Reads like some dreadful Hallmark movie.
    Horrible. Just horrible is the only way to describe Very Valentine. Maybe you have to be Italian to "get" this book. It certainly did nothing for me. The author just seemed to get lost in description. I found myself skimming through pages and pages describing shoes, sunsets, food, you name it! I guess all the fluff was meant to distract the readers from the weak plot, if you can even call it that. When I read this was the first of a series, I actually laughed. The first book is usually the best. I dread to think what follows next. I definitely have no intention of finding out. ...more info
  • Very Valentine: A Novel
    Trigiani is just the best! She is a master of creating characters and bringing them to life. Her sense of humor and the way she weaves a tale are so realistic. Her sense of family and the way families interact is wonderful. All the flaws, insecurities, and the needs we have for one another come alive. I devoured the Gap Stone Creek series as did my 80 year old mom, my 28 year old daughter in law and myself! I do not want to finish reading this book and look forward to the next 2....more info
  • Very Valentine
    I was disappointed in this new book by Adriana Trigiani - not up to the caliber of her previous books. For a start,too much time spent on clothes. The story is clearly written to create interest for the other 2 books in the trilogy. ...more info
  • Love this author
    I love this author and have recommended her to many friends. She hits the nail on the head in regard to Italian families. Love her!!!!! Ronnie Koopmann...more info
  • A Valentine Gift for all who read it!
    There are so many wonderful things about VERY VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani but the best is that it is the first book of a trilogy so there will more of these delightful characters and the wonderful story to look forward to. New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani who brought readers books like BIG STONE GAP and LUCIA, LUCIA has combined all the narrative elements so expertly once again that VERY VALENTINE results in what will surely become her fans' newest favorite novel.

    Set partially in New York's Greenwich Village, home to the Angelini Shoe Company-"Since 1903", and across the sea to Tuscany and Capri where secrets of more than one kind are revealed, Valentine Roncalli is a thirty-three year old former teacher who has become an apprentice shoemaker. Quite a switch one might say until they realize that Valentine lives with her grandmother, Teodora Angelini, whose family has created one-of-a-kind, custom made wedding shoes since the early 1900's. Valentine has inherited the talent, enthusiasm, and dedication the family business needs in order to carry on its rich tradition. Unfortunately, the tradition may be rich, but the company is struggling. Grandmother Teodora and Angelini Shoes are on the verge of bankruptcy due to improper handling of financial matters, and Valentine's business loving, somewhat merciless brother is trying to get his grandmother to sell the property which would mean the end of Angelini Shoes.

    Valentine fiercely opposes selling the business and when an opportunity to enter a design challenge that could save their company comes along, she attacks it head on. Designing THE shoe for the competition becomes a priority to Valentine. Part of the trip to Italy with her grandmother is to get materials and ideas for the show to win the competition. This however is only one part of this expansive, delightful family saga and love story.

    The interaction and family drama within Valentine's family range from a beloved father who is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness to the picky relationships between brothers, sisters, parents, and in-laws. But what would this story be without the love element? Yes, Valentine tries to balance a deepening relationship with an amazingly talented Italian chef, Roman Falconi, with her work and her family obligations. Theirs is a slowly developing relationship that begins in a very unusual way which seems to be a common thread in the way things go between Valentine and Roman. Just when things are going well with the two of them, one or the other allows their dedication to their work, which is probably their real passion, to take over.

    Roman is not the only love interest in the story for Valentine. As she travels with her grandmother to Italy, Valentine is not only thrilled by the exquisite trims and leathers they are there to purchase for the shoe company. A man also enters who could replace Roman in Valentine's heart, or could he? And what is the secret that is uncovered while Valentine and Tiadora are on this trip? The theme of love and loss plays an important role throughout the story and effects more than just one character. Expect the unexpected and even then you will still be left wanting more and having to wait for more of it in the next book.

    The character driven plot is exciting, humorous, heart wrenching and all the things one has come to love in the author's novels in the past. Although centered on Valentine, every character plays an important role as you come to care about each and every one of them. VERY VALENTINE will not disappoint Andriana Trigiani's legions of fans. Her amazingly descriptive writing is beautifully composed and the reader feels literally IN the physical settings as they are depicted. Trigiani writes about the characteristics of Angelini Shoe company's work by saying "our commitment to beauty and quality--every stitch, lace, and binding made by hand and perfected with the skill that can only come from practice, technique, experience, and a devotion to detail" which I found to actually be a true description of Adriana Trigiani's skillful writing. The reader will see the shoes, the city, the people, the country throughout the story due to the exceptional quality of the author's writing.

    With more to come in the next installment of the Very Valentine saga, readers will eagerly await its release. This book is en excellent book club read and one I highly recommend to everyone....a totally joyous, funny, loving, and compassionate story with a strong female lead character that the reader will admire and believe in. A story to enjoy, a book to treasure!
    Submitted originally to BOOKIN' WITH BINGO by K. H. (Bingo), Feb. 2009
    ...more info