Category Archives: New York stories

Book Blog Tour of Based on Availability by Alix Strauss


Welcome to the TLC Book Tour of Based on Availability by Alix Strauss!

Based upon Availability: A Novel

Her face brightens when she sees you.  She hugs you first, awkwardly, because of her large belly, which lightly presses up against you.  How can your friend have a child?  You used to get drunk with her.  Crashed fraternity parties.  Crawled out of your second-floor freshman dorm to buy pot and wait for the cookie guy at the front of the building.  She can’t be someone’s mother.  You can’t be thirty-five.  When you look in the mirror, on a good day, you still see a twenty-three-year-old.  An age when it was okay to be single.  Okay to not have the best job in the world.                                                          — Based on Availability by Alix Strauss

The Four Seasons is one of the luxury places that evokes images of Beautiful People – good looking, wealthy, glamorous.    Based on Availability is an unusual novel that tells the stories of seemingly unconnected women who pass through Manhattan’s Four Seasons Hotel.    Here are some of the characters that you meet:

  • Morgan, the hotel manager, is the dominant character in the novel who is somehow linked to many of the main characters.   Glamorous, efficient, and upwardly mobile, few people are aware that Morgan is haunted by the childhood death of her older sister and the extent to which this impacts her every day life.   As the manager of the Four Seasons, Morgan is often asked to comp or discount meals, rooms, drinks and to fix all sorts of emergencies.  She has her own risky ways of handling the disappointments and stresses of her personal life.  But what she really wants is a close female friend, someone to be as close as a sister; 
  • Trish is the daughter of celebrity parents: a writer and an artist.   Her parents have been busy with their careers and social lives all her life.   The breakup with her boyfriend hit her hard, but Trish is most upset about the recent changes to her best friend Olive.  Trish and Olive had been as close as sisters for as long as they could remember.  But now that Olive has found love and lost close to fifty pounds, and has developed a taste for dangerous diversions;
  • Louise, an old rock star who once partied with Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Iggy Pop.  Now, her glamorous friend in PR is helping Louise “dry out” and she’s opting for the Four Seasons because of the staff’s discretion and personal service;
  • Franny is a Southern girl and a recent transplant to Manhattan.  Franny’s job means that she hovers on the fringes of celebrity:  She’s the tv show stand-in who slips into a celebrity’s seat during award shows or TV specials to prevent unsightly “empty seats.”  Franny “participated silently at game shows, asked questions to guests on  morning talk shows, and laughed on command at sitcoms.  She contributed on focus groups, helped paper the house of previewing musicals, and ate at an array of new restaurants.”  While the list of events and places make for good stories and small talk, Franny misses a sense of belonging and friendship — she feels deeply isolated in the Big City.  She hopes to find friends and connections with her neighbors as they share a traumatic experience;
  • Anne is single, lonely, and has an obsessive compulsive disorder.  Things come to a head as she faces deep disappointment in her love life and professional life;
  • Catherine is an only child and married to a After a history of difficult pregnancies and miscarriages, Catherine’s overwhelming desire is for a child of her own.   As this fixation begins to rule her life, it takes a toll on her marriage;
  • Robin is a Manhattan-based realtor and she’s been looking forward to spending time with her self-centered and power-tripping older sister, Vicki.  They spend the day together shopping on Fifth Avenue and luxuriating in the spa,  and Robin realizes something critical about their relationship; and finally,
  • Sheila is a teacher living in one of the coveted rent-controlled apartments in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.   Like many in the City, she has her routine of morning coffee before the start of another day.   Sheila finds unexpected sweetness with a flirtation with a charming stranger.

In Based upon Availability: A Novel, Alix Strauss skillfully incorporates her knowledge as a lifestyle writer as she recreates this world of privilege and luxury.  Some characters are more compelling than others,  I was most sympathetic to Trish.   I could relate to her feeling that life was happening so fast — that the change to the 30s seems so sudden.   And it’s not just that our bodies seem to betray us.  There’s the sadness and anxiety as we find that our professional lives and personal lives haven’t kept up with expectations.  While each of the characters had some particular vulnerability that made them interesting, there were other times when a character’s myopia made me want to shake them.  I’m sure that Strauss had intended this to be so.  How much do you look for likability in the characters that you read about?

Overall, Based on Availability is an interesting glimpse into the lives of beautiful and dissatisfied people in New York.  If you’re fond of New York stories or contemporary women’s literature,  I think you might enjoy Alix Strauss’s Based upon Availability: A Novel.

ISBN-10: 0061845264 – Paperback $13.99
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (June 8, 2010), 352 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Alix Strauss is a lifestyle trend writer who appears on national morning and talk shows.  Her articles have been published in the New York Times, Marie Claire, Time, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications.  She is the author of The Joy of Funerals, Have I Got a Guy for You, and Death Becomes Them: Unearthing the Suicides of the Brilliant, the Famous and the Notorious.

Other participating sites:

Tuesday, June 8th: nomadreader
Wednesday, June 9th: Raging Bibliomania
Thursday, June 10th: Book Addiction
Monday, June 14th: Dolce Bellezza
Tuesday, June 22nd: Heart 2 Heart
Wednesday, June 23rd: Reading on a Rainy Day
Thursday, June 24th: As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves
Tuesday, June 29th: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, June 30th: Starting Fresh
Date TBD: Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?

Thank you to Trish and TLC Book Tours for this review opportunity!

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Book Review of Amy Sohn’s Prospect Park West


Welcome to the Book Blog Tour of Prospect Park West by Amy Sohn. I admit that I was very excited to review this, particularly since I live in this Brooklyn neighborhood.  There had been much written about Prospect Park West though many Park Slope residents (and those of South Slope, Prospect Heights) were disappointed at how much the author had poked fun at the local residents.

Prospect Park West: A Novel

The blurb:
Brooklyn’s famed Park Slope neighborhood has it all:  majestic Prospect Park, acclaimed public schools, historic brownstones, and progressive values.  Among bohemian bourgeois breeders, claiming a stake in Park Slope is a competitive sport.

In Amy Sohn’s smart, sexy, satirical peek into the bedrooms and hearts of Prospect Park West, the lives of four women come together during one long, hot Brooklyn summer.  Frustrated Oscar-winning actress Melora Leigh, eager to relieve the pressures of raising her adopted toddler, feels the seductive pull of kleptomania; Rebecca Rose, missing her formerly robust sec life, begins a dangerous flirtation with a handsome neighborhood celebrity; Lizzie O’Donnell, a former lesbian (or “hasbian”), wonders what draws her to women despite her sexy husband and adorable baby, and Karen Bryan Shapiro consumes herself with a powerful obsession — snagging the ultimate three-bedroom apartment in a well-maintained, P.S. 321-zoned co-op building.  As the women’s paths intertwine (and sometimes collide), each must struggle to keep her man, her sanity. . .and her playdates.

Review:
Amy Sohn knows the Park Slope neighborhood well and this comes through in her novel.  I can see why Brooklynites who had been looking forward to a glamorous account of the area were sorely disappointed.

Sohn describes the local haunts of Park Slope from  the “Tea Lounge” a known hangout of young mothers which she dubs the “Teat Lounge,” the local Food Coop, Prospect Park, the public library, neighborhood playgrounds, restaurants, coffee shops, and stores.  Each of Sohn’s four main characters seem like a caricature of a “type of resident.” 

Melora Leigh is a glamorous, high strung actress working to revive her career, worried about being bypassed in favor of younger actresses.  Melora seems to fall into situations and decisions and she feels as though her life is spiraling out of control.  She relies on her publisher, her therapist and, to a lesser degree,  her husband to help her navigate the tricky fishbowl of fame.  Melora joins the Food Coop despite her reluctance to work the required hours, and against her better judgment she participates with disastrous results.  Melora makes bad decisions over and over again  — it’s hard to imagine someone so savvy and successful in the entertainment world as out of touch with reality and with such poor judgment in her daily life. Melora and her situation read like the worst celebrity news.

The two friends, Lizzie and Rebecca, are Park Slope mothers whose children play together.  Lizzie and Rebecca see themselves as younger, more fashionable, and more attractive than the other “Park Slob” folk.   The two women  enjoy poking fun at the people around them who seem to have given up on their own achievement and now  focus all their energy and hopes on their children and have become boring.   Rebecca is wealthier and has the stronger personality of the two.   Lizzie, a former lesbian,  is eager to take their friendship to the next level, and is willing to take risks getting there.

Karen is married to a lawyer and is enjoying the life of a stay at home mother.  Karen wants a second child and a co-op in the right school zone.  Karen’s a “helicopter mom”  — she hovers over her son and pushes for what she wants, with little regard for social boundaries or niceties.

The story grows more interesting as the four women’s lives intersect and I kept wondering what would happen next.  I didn’t find any of the women to be sympathetic characters and kept hoping that something bad would happen to each of them!  I did enjoy the descriptions of real estate, condo board requirements and the hunt for the perfect apartment, but real estate is a blood sport in New York City. 
Overall, the book was an enjoyable and interesting read.  I’ll admit to being very glad to read about my neighborhood — even if the description wasn’t all that positive.

ISBN-10: 1416577653 – Paperback $15.00
Publisher: Downtown Press (May 4, 2010), 400 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Amy Sohn is the New York Times bestselling author of Run Catch Kiss, My Old Man, and Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell.  She has been a columnist at New York magazine and has also written for The Nation, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Times, and Playboy.  She lives in Brooklyn.  Find out more about Amy Sohn on her website http://www.AmySohn.com

Thank you to Sarah and Simon & Schuster for this review opportunity!

Book Review of Amy Sohn’s Prospect Park West


Welcome to the Book Blog Tour of Prospect Park West by Amy Sohn. I admit that I was very excited to review this, particularly since I live in this Brooklyn neighborhood.  There had been much written about Prospect Park West though many Park Slope residents (and those of South Slope, Prospect Heights) were disappointed at how much the author had poked fun at the local residents.

Prospect Park West: A Novel

The blurb:
Brooklyn’s famed Park Slope neighborhood has it all:  majestic Prospect Park, acclaimed public schools, historic brownstones, and progressive values.  Among bohemian bourgeois breeders, claiming a stake in Park Slope is a competitive sport.

In Amy Sohn’s smart, sexy, satirical peek into the bedrooms and hearts of Prospect Park West, the lives of four women come together during one long, hot Brooklyn summer.  Frustrated Oscar-winning actress Melora Leigh, eager to relieve the pressures of raising her adopted toddler, feels the seductive pull of kleptomania; Rebecca Rose, missing her formerly robust sec life, begins a dangerous flirtation with a handsome neighborhood celebrity; Lizzie O’Donnell, a former lesbian (or “hasbian”), wonders what draws her to women despite her sexy husband and adorable baby, and Karen Bryan Shapiro consumes herself with a powerful obsession — snagging the ultimate three-bedroom apartment in a well-maintained, P.S. 321-zoned co-op building.  As the women’s paths intertwine (and sometimes collide), each must struggle to keep her man, her sanity. . .and her playdates.

Review:
Amy Sohn knows the Park Slope neighborhood well and this comes through in her novel.  I can see why Brooklynites who had been looking forward to a glamorous account of the area were sorely disappointed.

Sohn describes the local haunts of Park Slope from  the “Tea Lounge” a known hangout of young mothers which she dubs the “Teat Lounge,” the local Food Coop, Prospect Park, the public library, neighborhood playgrounds, restaurants, coffee shops, and stores.  Each of Sohn’s four main characters seem like a caricature of a “type of resident.” 

Melora Leigh is a glamorous, high strung actress working to revive her career, worried about being bypassed in favor of younger actresses.  Melora seems to fall into situations and decisions and she feels as though her life is spiraling out of control.  She relies on her publisher, her therapist and, to a lesser degree,  her husband to help her navigate the tricky fishbowl of fame.  Melora joins the Food Coop despite her reluctance to work the required hours, and against her better judgment she participates with disastrous results.  Melora makes bad decisions over and over again  — it’s hard to imagine someone so savvy and successful in the entertainment world as out of touch with reality and with such poor judgment in her daily life. Melora and her situation read like the worst celebrity news.

The two friends, Lizzie and Rebecca, are Park Slope mothers whose children play together.  Lizzie and Rebecca see themselves as younger, more fashionable, and more attractive than the other “Park Slob” folk.   The two women  enjoy poking fun at the people around them who seem to have given up on their own achievement and now  focus all their energy and hopes on their children and have become boring.   Rebecca is wealthier and has the stronger personality of the two.   Lizzie, a former lesbian,  is eager to take their friendship to the next level, and is willing to take risks getting there.

Karen is married to a lawyer and is enjoying the life of a stay at home mother.  Karen wants a second child and a co-op in the right school zone.  Karen’s a “helicopter mom”  — she hovers over her son and pushes for what she wants, with little regard for social boundaries or niceties.

The story grows more interesting as the four women’s lives intersect and I kept wondering what would happen next.  I didn’t find any of the women to be sympathetic characters and kept hoping that something bad would happen to each of them!  I did enjoy the descriptions of real estate, condo board requirements and the hunt for the perfect apartment, but real estate is a blood sport in New York City. 
Overall, the book was an enjoyable and interesting read.  I’ll admit to being very glad to read about my neighborhood — even if the description wasn’t all that positive.

ISBN-10: 1416577653 – Paperback $15.00
Publisher: Downtown Press (May 4, 2010), 400 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Amy Sohn is the New York Times bestselling author of Run Catch Kiss, My Old Man, and Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell.  She has been a columnist at New York magazine and has also written for The Nation, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Times, and Playboy.  She lives in Brooklyn.  Find out more about Amy Sohn on her website http://www.AmySohn.com

Thank you to Sarah and Simon & Schuster for this review opportunity!

Book Review of Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani


I am my best self, the most alive I can be, when I’m creating in the shop. I would never admit this to a man I was interested in, but it’s the truth. Love is not the main course in the banquet of my life. It’s dessert. My mother would say that’s why I’m still single. And my sisters would say that I’m lying. But I know this to be true, that love is my treat, my tiramisu, because I’m living it.

I have not been tempted to scrap my life in Greenwich Village and get on a plane and go to Italy to be with Gianluca, even though I crave the idea of him. I know about women who drop the lives they lead in one place to go and be with a man in another. I’m fascinated by their impulse to choose the possibility of love over the certainty of work. I would never leave my work behind for a man, no matter how scrumptious he might be. I am, however, interested in romance on my own terms, and in my own time. I’m no master craftsman when it comes to love, strictly an apprentice in waiting.

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Brava, Valentine: A NovelThe blurb:
As Brava, Valentine begins, snow falls like glitter over Tuscany at the wedding of Valentine’s grandmother Teodora to her 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. Their delicious romance heats up, fueled by Gianluca’s heartfelt love letters, but more than an ocean keeps them apart.

When a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine from the winding streets of Greenwich Village to the sun-kissed cobblestones of Buenos Aires, she discovers a long-buried secret hidden deep within a family scandal. Once unearthed, the truth rocks the Roncallis, yet Valentine is determined to hold her family together. Even more, she longs to create a family 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 Trigiliani’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.”

Review:
Brava, Valentine is the fun, satisfying sequel to Very Valentine. Adriana Trigiani develops the characters and their relationships with sympathy and complexity.

With Teodora’s wedding, Valentine is now the head of Angelini Shoe Company and working with her brother, Alfred. The sibling rivalry and resentment still exist, but their close proximity gives Valentine and Alfred a chance to see each other’s strengths.

While Teodora and Dominic have married and have effectively retired, Valentine and Gianluca carry their former mentors’ workloads. Busier than ever, it seems unlikely that Valentine or Gianluca they’ll be able to plan a visit any time soon. But they find other ways to stay in touch and develop their romance. Nearby or far apart, the road to love for Valentine doesn’t run smoothly. But Valentine’s story keeps us engrossed throughout.

A satisfying sequel to Very Valentine and equally hard to put down, Brava, Valentine is a book that you’ll want to re-read and share with friends!

ISBN-10: 0061257079 – Hardcover $25.99
Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (February 9, 2010), 352 pages.
Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. The author of bestselling Big Stone Gap series and the bestselling novels Very Valentine, Lucia, Lucia, The Queen of the Big Time, and Rococo; she has also written and will direct the big-screen version of her first novel, Big Stone Gap. Viola in Reel Life, the first novel of her young adult series debuted in September 2009. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Thank you so much to Trish and TLC Book Tours for this review opportunity!

CymLowell

Book Review of Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani


I am my best self, the most alive I can be, when I’m creating in the shop. I would never admit this to a man I was interested in, but it’s the truth. Love is not the main course in the banquet of my life. It’s dessert. My mother would say that’s why I’m still single. And my sisters would say that I’m lying. But I know this to be true, that love is my treat, my tiramisu, because I’m living it.

I have not been tempted to scrap my life in Greenwich Village and get on a plane and go to Italy to be with Gianluca, even though I crave the idea of him. I know about women who drop the lives they lead in one place to go and be with a man in another. I’m fascinated by their impulse to choose the possibility of love over the certainty of work. I would never leave my work behind for a man, no matter how scrumptious he might be. I am, however, interested in romance on my own terms, and in my own time. I’m no master craftsman when it comes to love, strictly an apprentice in waiting.

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Brava, Valentine: A NovelThe blurb:
As Brava, Valentine begins, snow falls like glitter over Tuscany at the wedding of Valentine’s grandmother Teodora to her 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. Their delicious romance heats up, fueled by Gianluca’s heartfelt love letters, but more than an ocean keeps them apart.

When a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine from the winding streets of Greenwich Village to the sun-kissed cobblestones of Buenos Aires, she discovers a long-buried secret hidden deep within a family scandal. Once unearthed, the truth rocks the Roncallis, yet Valentine is determined to hold her family together. Even more, she longs to create a family 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 Trigiliani’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.”

Review:
Brava, Valentine is the fun, satisfying sequel to Very Valentine. Adriana Trigiani develops the characters and their relationships with sympathy and complexity.

With Teodora’s wedding, Valentine is now the head of Angelini Shoe Company and working with her brother, Alfred. The sibling rivalry and resentment still exist, but their close proximity gives Valentine and Alfred a chance to see each other’s strengths.

While Teodora and Dominic have married and have effectively retired, Valentine and Gianluca carry their former mentors’ workloads. Busier than ever, it seems unlikely that Valentine or Gianluca they’ll be able to plan a visit any time soon. But they find other ways to stay in touch and develop their romance. Nearby or far apart, the road to love for Valentine doesn’t run smoothly. But Valentine’s story keeps us engrossed throughout.

A satisfying sequel to Very Valentine and equally hard to put down, Brava, Valentine is a book that you’ll want to re-read and share with friends!

ISBN-10: 0061257079 – Hardcover $25.99
Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (February 9, 2010), 352 pages.
Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. The author of bestselling Big Stone Gap series and the bestselling novels Very Valentine, Lucia, Lucia, The Queen of the Big Time, and Rococo; she has also written and will direct the big-screen version of her first novel, Big Stone Gap. Viola in Reel Life, the first novel of her young adult series debuted in September 2009. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Thank you so much to Trish and TLC Book Tours for this review opportunity!

CymLowell

Book Review and giveaway of Adriana Trigiani’s Very Valentine


Adriana Trigiani’s just released the paperback edition of Very Valentine, the first in the series featuring Valentine Roncalli. Harper Collins is sponsoring a giveaway of 3 copies of Adriana Trigiani’s Very Valentine, the first in the series.
Very Valentine pb
“Valentine, I am eighty years old on my next birthday. How much longer can I…” She stops and reconsiders what she is trying to say. “You do most of what needs to be done around here in the shop, in the house, and even in the garden.”

“And I love it so much I’ll be a burden to you all your life,” I joke. “The last single woman in our family sleeping in your spare room.”

“Not for now and forever. You will fall in love again.” She raises her glass to me.

My grandmother has a way of encouraging me that is so gentle, it is only when I’m alone and reflective that I am able to recall her small turns of phrase that eventually shore me up and help me move forward. When she says, You will fall in love again, she means it, and also recognizes that I was once in love with a good man, Brett Fitzpatrick, and it was real. I had planned a future with him, and when it did not work out, she was the only person in my life who said it wasn’t supposed to. Everyone else (my sisters, my mother, and my friends) assumed he wasn’t enough or maybe he was too much, or maybe ours was a first love that wasn’t meant to go the distance,but no one else was able to put it in perspective so I might make it a chapter in the story of my life, and not the definitive denouement of my romantic history.

-Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

In Very Valentine, Adriana Trigiani first introduces us to Valentine Roncalli and her lively and memorable Italian American family. The book opens at Valentine’s sister’s wedding and predictably, Valentine is surrounded by pitying looks for her unmarried state and compliments on her decision to “help her grandmother” with the family business. But these are the impressions of outsiders – Valentine loves her life.

Valentine, the self-described “Funny One” of the three Roncalli sisters, takes us to the beautiful building in the middle of Greenwich Village that serves as her home and the center of the Angelini Shoe Company. The workshop, the upstairs apartment, and the gorgeous roof deck all have the details and handmade improvements that have served the Angelini family for over 100 years and are used well everyday. It’s in this workshop and home that Teodora Angelini teaches her granddaughter Valentine the techniques and skills to design and create one-of-a-kind shoes using the same tools and methods that she learned from her Italian husband and his family. Valentine loves her work, so when she discovers that the company is facing insolvency, things come to a head.

While Valentine’s brother pushes Teodora to sell the building in Greenwich Village and to live comfortably off of the proceeds, Valentine solicits the help of an old friend to find other ways to pay off the looming bank loans. Valentine’s solution is to expand Angelini Shoe Company’s product line – to find a shoe that will go beyond their custom line and that can reach out to ordinary women. When Valentine and her grandmother are invited to participate in a design competition at Bergdorf Goodman, things start to pick up.

Valentine’s love life has started to blossom as well with the attentions of gorgeous and charming Roman Falconi, chef and owner of a hot new restaurant in Manhattan. The only downside is that Roman, like Valentine, runs his own business. They don’t get to spend enough time with each other – she’s busy at their workshop and he’s constantly at his restaurant.

Teodora invites Valentine on her annual trip to Italy – she can meet the suppliers and other shoe designers and makers. And Roman has planned a special week in Capri so that they can focus on each other for a change. The trip in la belle Italia turns Valentine’s life upside down and brings her much more than she could have imagined.

Very Valentine was my first Adriana Trigiani novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Valentine and Teodora take us to those cobblestone streets of Greenwich Village and give us a glimpse into what it must have been like to live there before it became fashionable. As Valentine takes us to her haunts in Manhattan, it’s easy to get drawn into the magic of her life. I found myself hoping that she’d somehow prove her brother wrong and turn the company around.

I love the way Valentine describes her early relationship with Roman, just as she tries to keep things together:

“Despite the depth of my feelings (and his), I sometimes wonder how we can build a relationship when we hardly see each other. I remember reading an interview with Katherine Hepburn. She said that a woman’s job in a relationship with a man was to be adorable. I attempt to be a no-fuss, stress-free, supportive girlfriend who is more than aware of the pressures he has at work, so I don’t pile on more. To be fair, he does the same for me. I figure as long as we’re both in the same place, I imagine this arrangement will work just fine and get us to the next level (whatever that is).”

Very Valentine gives us a story of self discovery, sisterhood, friendship, love, and New York. Very Valentine is a witty, touching, and satisfying read!

ISBN-10: 0061257060 – Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 5, 2010), 416 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of the Big Stone Gap series and the bestselling novels Lucia, Lucia; The Queen of the Big Time; and Rococo; as well as Viola in Reel Life, the first book in a new young adult series. She has written and will direct the big-screen version of her first novel, Big Stone Gap. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter. Learn more on Adriana Trigiani’s website at http://www.adrianatrigiani.com/

Listen to Adriana Trigiani discuss Very Valentine on Blog Talk Radio.

The second in the series, Brava, Valentine was released hardcover on February 9, 2010.

CONTEST DETAILS:

To enter, tell us if you enjoy historical fiction. If so, please share which period you particularly enjoy reading about or a time period that you’d like to learn about. If you don’t like historical fiction, what period of history or historical figures do you enjoy reading about?

Rules:
1. Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address, no entry.
2. You must be a follower to join the contest.

The contest is limited to US and Canada. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on March 21, 2010.

Book Review and giveaway of Adriana Trigiani’s Very Valentine


Adriana Trigiani’s just released the paperback edition of Very Valentine, the first in the series featuring Valentine Roncalli. Harper Collins is sponsoring a giveaway of 3 copies of Adriana Trigiani’s Very Valentine, the first in the series.
Very Valentine pb
“Valentine, I am eighty years old on my next birthday. How much longer can I…” She stops and reconsiders what she is trying to say. “You do most of what needs to be done around here in the shop, in the house, and even in the garden.”

“And I love it so much I’ll be a burden to you all your life,” I joke. “The last single woman in our family sleeping in your spare room.”

“Not for now and forever. You will fall in love again.” She raises her glass to me.

My grandmother has a way of encouraging me that is so gentle, it is only when I’m alone and reflective that I am able to recall her small turns of phrase that eventually shore me up and help me move forward. When she says, You will fall in love again, she means it, and also recognizes that I was once in love with a good man, Brett Fitzpatrick, and it was real. I had planned a future with him, and when it did not work out, she was the only person in my life who said it wasn’t supposed to. Everyone else (my sisters, my mother, and my friends) assumed he wasn’t enough or maybe he was too much, or maybe ours was a first love that wasn’t meant to go the distance,but no one else was able to put it in perspective so I might make it a chapter in the story of my life, and not the definitive denouement of my romantic history.

-Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

In Very Valentine, Adriana Trigiani first introduces us to Valentine Roncalli and her lively and memorable Italian American family. The book opens at Valentine’s sister’s wedding and predictably, Valentine is surrounded by pitying looks for her unmarried state and compliments on her decision to “help her grandmother” with the family business. But these are the impressions of outsiders – Valentine loves her life.

Valentine, the self-described “Funny One” of the three Roncalli sisters, takes us to the beautiful building in the middle of Greenwich Village that serves as her home and the center of the Angelini Shoe Company. The workshop, the upstairs apartment, and the gorgeous roof deck all have the details and handmade improvements that have served the Angelini family for over 100 years and are used well everyday. It’s in this workshop and home that Teodora Angelini teaches her granddaughter Valentine the techniques and skills to design and create one-of-a-kind shoes using the same tools and methods that she learned from her Italian husband and his family. Valentine loves her work, so when she discovers that the company is facing insolvency, things come to a head.

While Valentine’s brother pushes Teodora to sell the building in Greenwich Village and to live comfortably off of the proceeds, Valentine solicits the help of an old friend to find other ways to pay off the looming bank loans. Valentine’s solution is to expand Angelini Shoe Company’s product line – to find a shoe that will go beyond their custom line and that can reach out to ordinary women. When Valentine and her grandmother are invited to participate in a design competition at Bergdorf Goodman, things start to pick up.

Valentine’s love life has started to blossom as well with the attentions of gorgeous and charming Roman Falconi, chef and owner of a hot new restaurant in Manhattan. The only downside is that Roman, like Valentine, runs his own business. They don’t get to spend enough time with each other – she’s busy at their workshop and he’s constantly at his restaurant.

Teodora invites Valentine on her annual trip to Italy – she can meet the suppliers and other shoe designers and makers. And Roman has planned a special week in Capri so that they can focus on each other for a change. The trip in la belle Italia turns Valentine’s life upside down and brings her much more than she could have imagined.

Very Valentine was my first Adriana Trigiani novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Valentine and Teodora take us to those cobblestone streets of Greenwich Village and give us a glimpse into what it must have been like to live there before it became fashionable. As Valentine takes us to her haunts in Manhattan, it’s easy to get drawn into the magic of her life. I found myself hoping that she’d somehow prove her brother wrong and turn the company around.

I love the way Valentine describes her early relationship with Roman, just as she tries to keep things together:

“Despite the depth of my feelings (and his), I sometimes wonder how we can build a relationship when we hardly see each other. I remember reading an interview with Katherine Hepburn. She said that a woman’s job in a relationship with a man was to be adorable. I attempt to be a no-fuss, stress-free, supportive girlfriend who is more than aware of the pressures he has at work, so I don’t pile on more. To be fair, he does the same for me. I figure as long as we’re both in the same place, I imagine this arrangement will work just fine and get us to the next level (whatever that is).”

Very Valentine gives us a story of self discovery, sisterhood, friendship, love, and New York. Very Valentine is a witty, touching, and satisfying read!

ISBN-10: 0061257060 – Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 5, 2010), 416 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of the Big Stone Gap series and the bestselling novels Lucia, Lucia; The Queen of the Big Time; and Rococo; as well as Viola in Reel Life, the first book in a new young adult series. She has written and will direct the big-screen version of her first novel, Big Stone Gap. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter. Learn more on Adriana Trigiani’s website at http://www.adrianatrigiani.com/

Listen to Adriana Trigiani discuss Very Valentine on Blog Talk Radio.

The second in the series, Brava, Valentine was released hardcover on February 9, 2010.

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