- Joy O'Toole
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Lucia Sartori is the beautiful twenty-five-year-old daughter of a prosperous Italian grocer in Greenwich Village. The postwar boom is ripe with opportunities for talented girls with ambition, and Lucia becomes an apprentice to an up-and-coming designer at chic B. Altman's department store on Fifth Avenue. Engaged to her childhood sweetheart, the steadfast Dante DeMartino, Lucia is torn when she meets a handsome stranger who promises a life of uptown luxury that career girls like her only read about in the society pages. Forced to choose between duty to her family and her own dreams, Lucia finds herself in the midst of a sizzling scandal in which secrets are revealed, her beloved career is jeopardized, and the Sartoris' honor is tested. (catalog summary)
Liked Lucia, Lucia? Here's a list of books that are about Italian-Americans and/or hopefully capture the feel of Adriana Trigiani’s books.
Dancing on Sunday Afternoons by Linda Cardillo
Cara has a busy life in Manhattan running her catering business and is looking forward to two weeks off with her family when she learns that her grandmother Giulia is in the hospital in Italy. The only one in the family who speaks Italian, Cara must go help. Her grandmother has always been an enigma to Cara, and Giulia's request for a cigar box perplexes her until she reads the old letters it contains. Cara learns about Giulia's small-town life in Italy and her journey to America, where she meets Paolo, the love of her life. (catalog summary)
The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag
Etta Sparks' cozy dress shop, tucked away at the end of a winding Cambridge road, is a magical place - anyone who steps inside the little blue door to glimpse the glorious silks and jewel-hued velvets can see they are someplace special. But only Etta knows the dresses she sells are actually magic - a few stitches from her needle and each gown imbues the wearer with the confidence to achieve whatever they set their mind too. The only two people the dresses don't seem to work on are Etta, still nursing a heartbroken 40 years ago, and her granddaughter Cora, who dedicated her life to science after her brilliant inventor parents died in a mysterious fire and who doesn't have time for things like magic or love. (catalog summary)
Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano
This engrossing cross-generational saga centers on the experiences of Giovanna Costa, from the small Italian fishing village where she is born to the bustling streets of New York's Lower East Side where she struggles to raise her family and make a living as a midwife after the death of her first husband. In America, the resourceful Giovanna and her second husband eventually open a fruit and vegetable stand, attracting the unwanted attention of the notorious Black Hand crime organization. When Giovanni refuses to meet their demands, her daughter is kidnapped and held for ransom. Basing this story including the kidnapping on her own family's immigrant experiences, Fabiano provides a wealth of period detail, infusing the compulsively readable narrative with an authentic sense of time, place, and community. (catalog summary)
Francesca’s Kitchen by Peter Pezzelli
For years, Francesca Campanile was the queen of her home. Standing in her Rhode Island kitchen, Francesca dispensed advice as liberally as she did garlic, arguing nonstop with her son and two daughters. It was a wonderful life. But now, Francesca's children have moved away—and for the widowed Francesca, not having a family around to pester, guide, love and cook for makes her feel useless. When Francesca sees Loretta Simmons's want ad for a part-time nanny, she doesn't hesitate. Loretta just wants someone to fill in for a few hours a day, but it's obvious to Francesca that Loretta and her kids need a lot more than that. Loretta struggles to make ends meet, and her choice in men is one disaster after another. Her kids could use some guidance. It's time for Francesca to work her magic—and the best place to start is in the kitchen. (catalog summary)
Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Doran Barbieri
Fleeing for Ireland in the wake of a failed relationship, fashion designer Kate Robinson finds herself in a coastal Gaelic village and bonds with the members of a lace-making society, through whom she finds healing by listening to their stories of loss and suffering. (catalog summary)
The Saint of Lost things by Christopher Castellani
Maddalena Grasso has lost her country, her family, and the man she loved by coming to America. Her mercurial husband, Antonio, has lost his opportunity to realize the American Dream. Their friend Guilio Fabbri, a shy accordion player, has lost his beloved parents. In the shadow of St. Anthony's Church, named for the patron saint of lost things, fate and circumstances conspire to answer their prayers in unforeseeable ways. (catalog summary)
Season of the Dragonflies by Sarah Creech
When trouble starts brewing at the family perfumery, and the unique flowers used in the perfume start dying, Lucia, the youngest daughter who left years ago to make her own way—and who has begun showing signs of her own special abilities—returns home to save the company. (catalog summary)
A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff
Therese Bell, an elderly Frenchwoman, has an impressive clothing collection. But among the array of smart suits and couture gowns, London dressmaker Phoebe finds a child's sky-blue coat—an item with which Bell is stubbornly reluctant to part. As the two women become friends, Phoebe will learn the tale of that little blue coat. And she will discover an astonishing connection between herself and Therese Bell—one that will help her heal the pain of her own past and allow her to love again. (catalog summary)
Where the Heart Isby Billie Letts
Talk about unlucky sevens. An hour ago, seventeen-year-old, seven months pregnant Novalee Nation was heading for California with her boyfriend. Now she finds herself stranded at a Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma, with just $7.77 in change. But Novalee is about to discover hidden treasures in this small Southwest town—a group of down-to-earth, deeply caring people willing to help a homeless, jobless girl living secretly in a Wal-Mart. From Bible-thumping blue-haired Sister Thelma Husband to eccentric librarian Forney Hull who loves Novalee more than she loves herself, they are about to take her—and you, too--on a moving, funny, and unforgettable journey to . . . where the heart is.