THE SHOEMAKER'S WIFE
The Shoemaker’s Wife is an impeccably researched, sweeping chronicle of the American immigrant experience at the turn of the century. The novel focuses on two beguiling young people, though a failure to settle on one as the main protagonist until deep into the book leaves it feeling somewhat disjointed. However, the story is so engrossing and the language so rich that this stylistic miss is easily overlooked. And though the ending seems a bit rushed, the ride leading up to it is enormously satisfying.
In the Italian Alps, practical Enza and mischievous Ciro meet as teenagers and feel an instant bond. But after witnessing a scandal, Ciro is shipped off to America, where he apprentices with a shoemaker in New York City’s Little Italy. Unbeknownst to the pair, family misfortune forces Enza to follow soon after. Fate eventually reunites them, and both realize their feelings still stand. It takes being shipped off to the frontlines of WWI for Ciro to finally act on it … though, by then, it may be too late. (HARPER, May, 448 pp., $26.99)