Written by Adriana Trigiani
Adriana Trigiani is one of my favorite authors. Her books are always down-to-earth and accessible, with a bit of fairy tale to them. The stories are well-paced; detailed without bogging down.
Lucia, Lucia, like all of Trigiani’s books, includes themes of family and tradition. It is set in New York City, just after World War II has ended. Lucia is the only daughter of an Italian grocer. Her brothers, loud and rambunctious, work for her father, while she is allowed to work as a seamstress at a high-end department store. Lucia loves her family and culture, but struggles to make peace between responsibility and a desire to be more.
Lucia is a wonderful character. She is so human that you would not be surprised to meet her on the street. I loved the strength she possessed along with her vulnerability. She is one of the great female characters in contemporary fiction.
Trigiani also paints a vivid picture of New York City in 1950. You can picture the tomatoes piled up outside the Italian grocer. You can hear the waves crashing on the shore on Long Island. You can taste the effervescence of a golden glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve. This is a world on the verge of the modern era, with all its hopes and dreams.
The plot was unexpected in a way I have come to expect from Trigiani. And if you are intrigued by that statement, you will just have to read the book.
Trigiani introduces the story in a fairly standard way. A present day career girl meets an old woman in her apartment building, and joins her for tea. Nothing wrong with that. But I think the contemporary segment of the novel either needed to go away or get rounded out more. It felt extraneous, and when you come back to the present it is jarring and incomplete.
This book contains a few family recipes. And since I enjoy cooking, I tried them out. Perhaps, like members of my family, Trigiani left out a key ingredient or step, but they were not great. I know that should not reflect on the book, but, hey, you put them in there, they’d better rock. Their inclusion is also a bit strange. There were three recipes, and they were sort of clustered together in one section. I felt like they needed to be sprinkled throughout if they were going to be part of the story.
Lucia, Lucia made me feel like a part of the Sartori family. There was so much love in this book that I had to put it aside at times. Lucia was a likeable heroine that was flawed and admirable at the same time. I was sad to finish the book because I wanted to go on knowing Lucia and her family. Experience the sorrows and joys and comfort of family when you read these pages.