Monday, August 4, 2014

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani

Title: The Supreme Macaroni Company
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: November 26, 2013
Number of Pages: 352
How I Got It: Laura Fabiani 
Format: Paperback

About the book:
In The Supreme Macaroni Company, Adriana Trigiani transports readers from the cobblestone streets of Greenwich Village to lush New Orleans to Italy and back again while exploring the tricky dynamics between Old World craftsmanship and New World ambition, all amid a passionate love affair that fuels one woman's determination to have it all.

For over a hundred years, the Angelini Shoe Company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This ancient business partnership provides the twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the schoolteacher turned shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past . . . and a secret.

But after the wedding celebrations are over, Valentine wakes up to the hard reality of juggling the demands of a new business and the needs of her new family. Confronted with painful choices, Valentine remembers the wise words that inspired her in the early days of her beloved Angelini Shoe Company: "A person who can build a pair of shoes can do just about anything." Now the proud, passionate Valentine is going to fight for everything she wants and savor all she deserves—the bitter and the sweet of life itself.

Romantic and poignant, told with humor and warmth, and bursting with a cast of endearing characters, The Supreme Macaroni Company is a sumptuous feast of delights: an unforgettable narrative about family, work, romance, and the unexpected turns of life and fate.

About the author:
Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. Her books include the New York Times bestseller The Shoemaker's Wife; the Big Stone Gap series; Very Valentine; Brava, Valentine; Lucia, Lucia; and the bestselling memoir Don't Sing at the Table, as well as the young adult novels Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight. She wrote the screenplay for Big Stone Gap, which she also directed. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Connect with Adriana here:
Twitter: @adrianatrigiani

My Review:
I listened to the first two books of the Valentine series on audio and loved them. This book is a wonderful 3rd addition and I loved reading it as much as I enjoyed listening to the first two. I'm sure a lot of readers were excited that Valentine was getting married and going to have a wedding. I'm not interested in weddings but I did want Gianluca and Valentine to finally be together on the same continent, and not constantly being ships passing in the night. I also personally liked that the wedding wasn't the "big finish." Trigiani shows the difficulty of work / life balance and the constant compromises that come with a marriage.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Talk with R & T: R's Hollywood Cast Picks for "The Fortune Hunter"

My ideal Hollywood cast for The Fortune Hunter is:

Charlotte: Claire Danes or Julia Stiles because they often play confident young women who rebel against societal expectations.
Sisi: Denise Richards, Michelle Phiffer or Sarah Jessica Parker because they are "women of a certain age" in Hollywood where being young and beautiful is the expectation.
Bay: Emile Hirsh, Liam Hemsworth or Hunter Parrish simply because I think they are all handsome and Bay is a dashing horseman.
Fred: Shia LeBeouf because he's arrogant.
Augusta: Winona Ryder or Emma Watson because they are beautiful but would be great saying those passive agressive comments to Charlotte. 
Queen Victoria: although it would be a stretch for age, I say Renee Zellwegger. I think she could pull of the nose-in-the air routine quite well.
Chicken: Jack Black because Chicken has a full beard and I can't think of many actors that do.
Caspar: Neal Patrick Harris or David Arquette because they would be great "flamboyant Americans"

Do you like my picks? Be sure to read Tamara's picks too!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Talk with R & T: R's Review of The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

Hopefully everyone is excited as Tamara and I are about our latest installment of "Book Talk with R & T" !!  As we told y'all yesterday, all week we will be highlighting "The Fortune Hunter" by Daisy Goodwin. Today we are celebrating the book's US release and I'm posting my review. Later this week we will be chatting about the covers, movie cast, and anything else that strikes our fancy. Have you read "The Fortune Hunter" yet? We want to chat with you! 

Title: The Fortune Hunter
Author: Daisy Goodwin
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
ISBN: 9781250043894
Number of Pages: 480
How I Got It: Staci Burt / St. Martin's Press Publicity
Format: Paperback
Publisher's Description: THE FORTUNE HUNTER (St. Martin’s Press; July 29, 2014) is a brilliant, new novel that explores the irresistibility of the public lives and private longings of grand historical figures. Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as "Sisi," is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse.
Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National—until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that threatens the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and all of their futures.

My Review: 
To be honest, I had a tough time with the first 60 or so pages. There are a lot of character introductions and everyone seems to be called by multiple names and titles. Once I got in rhythm with the writing, I was fully submerged. At the center of the book is a love triangle between Charlotte (heir to the Lennox fortune,) Elizabeth / Sisi (the Austrian Empress,) and Bay (a horseman.) Charlotte is a self-assured young heiress. Her interest in photography rather than parties and social events clashes with the expectations of family members. Sisi travels in order to hide from her husband and the public. The aging beauty sets her sights on (and opens her purse to) Bay. Bay wants to marry Charlotte, but the interests of the Empress draw him away from his love.
This novel has everything I'm looking for in historical fiction. A time in history that would have otherwise been uninteresting to me (because most of my high school and college history classes focused on men and politics rather than all people and their daily lives) came to life in this book. The European locations, the balls, the rules of royalty,  the horse riding, the newness of photography and cross country railways, the vast frontier of America, everything is presented in a crisp, exciting way.
Not often is the secondary cast of characters as interesting as the main characters, but Daisy Goodwin wraps you up with social climbers, flamboyant Americans, spurned suitors, and the whole range of household servants.
Out of the secondary storylines my favorite is the relationship between Charlotte and her soon-to-be sister-in-law Augusta. These two women are very close in age with similar upbringings but their personalities and demeanors are so opposite of each other. Their quips and snide remarks back and forth had me laughing and I loved every time Charlotte got Augusta worked up about something.

About the Author: 
DAISY GOODWIN is the author of The American Heiress. She is a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University’s film school after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University and is a leading television producer in the U.K. Her poetry anthologies have introduced many new readers to the pleasures of poetry, and she was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. She and her husband, an ABC TV executive, have two daughters and live in London.

Be sure to check out Daisy's WebsiteFacebook, and Twitter