This was the sort of book that pretentious Honors English college students gush over as “important” and “meaningful”. Which, to me, usually meant it was weird, full of “lyricism”, and contained sentences that never seemed to end. I wanted to like it. I wanted it to be something special. But I really, really hated it.
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.
Most of us know the story of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. I always thought of it as this golden moment in time, never really thinking too closely on the tragedy and historical resonance of the whole situation. This book took me beyond that snapshot.
The Light of Paris does what all great (yes, I said “great”) books do. It puts you in the shoes of the protagonists, so that you occasionally blink and realize that you aren’t in the story.
I usually don’t love books set in this time period because the age was so hard on women. I can’t seem to reconcile the romanticism of the period with the reality, and makes me very uncomfortable when I read about it. But this book was different.