Friday, February 26, 2010

Review: Brava, Valentine

Summary: Adriana Trigiani's bestselling novels are beloved by millions of readers around the world. From the Big Stone Gap series to Lucia, Lucia, each is a sumptuous treat as Trigiani tells hilarious and romantic stories that we want to return to again and again.

Very Valentine, an instant New York Times bestseller, introduced the contemporary family saga of the Roncalli and Angelini families, artisans of handcrafted wedding shoes in Greenwich Village since 1903.

As Brava, Valentine begins, snow falls like glitter over Tuscany at the wedding of her grandmother, Teodora, and longtime love, Dominic. Valentine's dreams are dashed when Gram announces that Alfred, "the prince," Valentine's only brother and nemesis, has been named her partner at Angelini Shoes. Devastated, Valentine falls into the arms of Gianluca, a sexy Tuscan tanner who made his romantic intentions known on the Isle of Capri. Despite their passion for one another and Gianluca's heartfelt letters, a long-distance relationship seems impossible.

As Valentine turns away from romance and devotes herself to her work, mentor and pattern cutter June Lawton guides her through her power struggle with Alfred, while best friend and confidante Gabriel Biondi moves into 166 Perry Street, transforming her home and point of view. Savvy financier Bret Fitzpatrick, Valentine's first love and former fiancée who still carries a torch for her, encourages Valentine to exploit her full potential as a designer and a business woman with a plan that will bring her singular creations to the world.

A once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine from the winding streets of Greenwich Village to the sun-kissed cobblestones of Buenos Aires, where she finds a long-buried secret hidden deep within a family scandal. Once unearthed, the truth rocks the Roncallis and Valentine is determined to hold her family together. More so, she longs to create one of her own, but is torn between a past love that nurtured her, and a new one that promises to sustain her.

Brava, Valentine, Trigiani's best novel yet, delivers a hilarious and poignant mix of colorful worlds and unforgettable characters as only she can create them. -- Harper

Get ready for some major gushing because I loved
BRAVA, VALENTINE. Adriana Trigiani, one of my favorite authors, has done it again! She has written a book that I found to be entertaining on so many levels. I just treasured this book and didn't want it to end!

BRAVA, VALENTINE is typical Adriana Trigiani. It's a story about an independent and successful woman who is bound to capture your heart. I think that's the beauty of this novel -- Ms. Trigiani has created a wonderful character in Valentine. She is smart, strong, loyal and beautiful (and did I mention extremely likable?); but she also has a few issues when it comes to men and love. What I loved about BRAVA, VALENTINE is that the story has so many interesting characters and relationships, but at the real heart of the story is Valentine. She not only faces a huge amount of change, but she also has to look inside of herself and discover what she really wants.. It was wonderful to see how much she grew throughout the course of the novel.

There were times in this book when I just wanted to shake Valentine because she was so narrow-minded. That might sound awful, but it wasn't that I was ever really mad at her (I love her!) Rather, I just wanted her to see the bigger picture and hope that she would realize what's important in her life before it was too late. Valentine faced what many women of today face -- balancing a career and family obligations versus finding true love. There is no doubt that it's a hard act to have it all in today's society, and Valentine learned the hard way in this novel. My heart did go out to Valentine (even when I thought she was being kind of dumb), and I desperately wanted her to find genuine happiness!

In addition to Valentine's issues balancing a career and romance, I also thoroughly enjoyed the part of the story about the relationship between Valentine and her brother Alfred. When their grandmother turns the business over to both of them, it comes as a shock and disappointment to Valentine. She has to work closely with her "perfect" and very judgmental brother, and their relationship in the past has been less than ideal. I really liked seeing how Ms. Trigiani developed the character of Alfred and especially how she handled the complex relationship between him and Valentine.

And where do I even start explaining how much I love Ms. Trigiani's writing? Her descriptions of Italy and Buenos Aires are gorgeous and really seem to capture the essence of the countries, but she also has a knack for detailing shoes, fashion and interior design. As I read this novel, I could picture everything from the Italian countryside to Valentine's newly decorated apartment to the village in Buenos Aires; and I swear I could almost feel the textures of the shoes! I also adore how she conveys the dynamics of the Roncalli family -- there is so much warmth and humor in her descriptions. I don't know if there is any author out there who can capture the essence of a big Italian family like Ms. Trigiani can; and I have to wonder how much is based on her own life and the relationship she has with her sisters.

I think BRAVA, VALENTINE would make a terrific discussion book, but only if the members of your club have already read VERY VALENTINE. It's not absolutely necessary to the read VERY VALENTINE first because I think Ms. Trigiani does a great job of catching the reader up with Valentine's past; however, it would be so much better to read them in order! I wasn't able to find any discussion questions for this novel, but I'm sure they will be available in the near future. (I'll be sure to add the link.) Some of the topics for discussion include family relationships, love, career aspirations, sacrifices, loneliness, grief, forgiveness, change, and other life lessons! I think a BRAVA, VALENTINE meeting would also be a lot of fun because food is such a huge theme in this novel. In fact, you could make some of the recipes on Ms. Trigiani's website or in the back of VERY VALENTINE.

Ms. Trigiani is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I am so excited that BRAVA, VALENTINE most definitely lived up to my expectations. My only regret is that I have to wait another year before the next book in this very entertaining series is available!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this novel.

Make sure you check out my giveaway for three copies of VERY VALENTINE.


Sandy Nawrot said...

Sigh. I need to read these already. All of you are making me crazy...everyone loves these! So perhaps, once I've gotten a grip on my ARCs and my challenges, I shall treat myself with these literary bon bons!

Melanie said...

She is one of my favortie authors too. I went to a book signing several years ago and everyone she meets is a friend. I can't wait to read this book.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Nice review, Julie. I loved this book (really - 5 stars) and I agree that one should read Very Valentine first. You don't have to but it really gives a good understanding of what V's gone through with relationships, etc. And she met Gianluca in VV. : )

Karlie said...

I'm almost done with this book and loving it, as always!!

holdenj said...

Oh, I can't wait! I love it when she takes us to foreign settings too.

bermudaonion said...

Okay, you've done it - I'm moving this up to the top of my TBR pile and I'll be reading it next!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I've been surprised at how many positive reviews there are on this author. Looks like an author I have to try!

Anonymous said...

I really want to read this book. Have to read Very Valentine first though. I love the cover. I'm kind of obsessed with it. OK, must find my copy of Very Valentine (or maybe I bought it for my Kindle) and read it. Thanks for your thoughts!

Beth F said...

I have that here waiting to be read. March is going to be my Valentine month!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful review. I now have to read the Valentine books! They sound SO great.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

The Valentine books are fantastic! Yes, I'd love to have Gabby step in and redecorate my living room!

trish said...

You make it sound just delightful! I love books with these kind of themes, so I think I'd really enjoy it!