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Lucia, Lucia    by Adriana Trigiani order for
Lucia, Lucia
by Adriana Trigiani
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Family is the most important thing to Lucia Sartori. However, her dreams and goals transcend 1950's New York City and the expectations of her family. Her parents want her to marry a nice Italian man and settle down as a housewife. Lucia, who works in the sewing department at B. Altman's on Fifth Avenue, has an eye for clothing and fabric. She can customize just the right style for any woman who comes into the store. She forms a family-like bond with three other seamstresses and a designer, who become her closest friends and confidantes. She is filled with happiness and promise for the future.

Lucia breaks off an engagement to Dante DeMartino, an Italian baker from her neighborhood. Both families encourage the union, but Lucia is not willing to give up her career and stay home. While browsing through B. Altman's on her lunch break, Lucia is introduced to John Talbot, a handsome, suave young man. They run into each other on other occasions and fall deeply in love. John wins the heart of Lucia's mother and brothers, but her father is more reserved in his judgment. He believes that there is someone better for Lucia, and does not want to see her heart broken. John and Lucia make plans to marry, and choose land on which to build their home. But their happy dreams soon turn to heartbreak as the beautiful cocoon in which Lucia has nestled comes unwoven. Will she be able to face her family in the midst of scandal? Is there a chance for Lucia to find love?

Lucia, Lucia is an exquisitely written masterpiece whose essence cannot be captured in a small synopsis. At its heart it is a story about the power of love and family. Lucia's character is well-defined, and the many facets of her personality shine through. She is at times naive, but no more so than any person would be in her situation. Adriana Trigiani makes the setting glow and places the reader in the center of the action, experiencing all of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the 1950's in New York City. Some recipes are included to further enhance the experience. Every reader will identify with the situations in this story. Lucia's desire to please her parents, especially her father, transcends any time or location. Her dreams to make something special of her life and her talent, and unwillingness to settle for just meeting others' expectations will resonate with readers wanting to achieve the same.

Rarely does a book move me to tears of both sadness and joy, but Lucia, Lucia does just that. Readers who have enjoyed Ms. Trigiani's Big Stone Gap trilogy will be enamored of this new book. She is an extremely gifted writer with a knack for touching the reader's heart. This is a book for your keeper shelf; you will want to read it again and again.

Review by Mary Ann Smyth:

The author of the Big Stone Gap trilogy has written a stand-alone novel that is just as enchanting as her previous works. Lucia, Lucia is a delightful and exquisitely rendered story of an Italian family in the 1950s. It's a simple but highly engaging tale of a woman's journey through life, her highs and lows, her friendships, her mistakes, her fierce devotion to her family.

Living in Greenwich Village with her mother, father and four older brothers, Lucia manages to carve a career for herself in spite of her parents' old time Italian values. Her working life is spent in B. Altman's couture department among people who become her second family. Lucia's mother is horrified when she breaks her engagement to longtime boyfriend Dante DeMartino, a nice Italian boy with prospects. Her eye instead falls on a man (who presents her with a full-length mink coat) running with the social set of New York City, although Lucia realizes she can never be a part of the fast paced upper crust.

Lucia is content with her family origins and her job, but she also wants true love in her life and is willing to compromise if that is what it takes. More than compromise is needed. The author writes knowledgeably of the old Italian lifestyle of emigrants and their offspring, pulling on the heartstrings of family life for the benefit of her readers. She takes us behind the scenes of the couture business, and her reminiscences of the 1950s glitter with the gold of her words.

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