Genre: historical fiction
Length: 470 pages
Setting: Italy and American, early 1900s
Interest: It was chosen for book club
Summary: Ciro and Eduardo are left at a convent in the Italian village of Vilminore di Scalve when their father dies and their mother can no longer care for them. They earn their keep around the convent doing chores. Ciro catches the priest kissing a village girl, so he is sent away to be a shoemaker’s apprentice in NYC. We also meet Enza, a girl who lives in the next village up the mountain. Ciro and Enza meet when Ciro digs the grave for Enza’s sister. They immediately sense a bond between them, but Ciro is sent away. Enza and her father emigrate to Hoboken, NJ to earn enough money for their family to build a house. Enza and Ciro meet again, but when Ciro finally decides to pursue Enza, she’s left the family she was living with and her factory job to become a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera. They both build successful lives, Enza as a seamstress, and Ciro as a shoemaker. They meet again the day Ciro is shipped back from WWI and Enza is on her way to her wedding. Enza throws over the groom and finally gets together with Ciro. They (and a friend) move to Minnesota to open a shoe shop, and build a family. They have one son before Ciro dies of cancer because of mustard gas exposure in the war.
Final thoughts: I was an interesting enough story, but not one I’d gush about (unlike a couple of people at book club). I knew Ciro and Enza would get together (the title gave it away) so I just kept waiting for their chance meetings to turn into a relationship, which took much of the book. One of the themes of the book was true love conquering all, but it was also about the importance of friendship. Both Ciro and Enza made long-term friendships that helped them survive and thrive in America. One interesting side note, the book does alternate between Enza and Ciro’s story, which isn’t typical. Usually, you just follow one of the characters (probably the female voice, since this is mostly a love story written for a female audience), but here we get to see both sides of the story until they finally get together.
Title comes from: The two main characters were Ciro and Enza. Ciro was a shoemaker and Enza eventually married him.
Reading challenges fulfilled: a T in my Author Reading the Alphabet Challenge, and #31 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge
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