Italian-American Heritage Month Book List
The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Summary of The Shoemaker’s Wife from Goodreads:
The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza's family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.
Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso.
From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.
Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker's Wife is a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk.
The Shoe Maker's Wife is also available on ElibraryNJ
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Summary of My Brilliant Friend from Goodreads:
A modern masterpiece from one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense and generous hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante's inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists.
My Brilliant Friend is also available on ElibraryNJ
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Summary of The Godfather from Goodreads:
The Godfather—the epic tale of crime and betrayal that became a global phenomenon.
Almost fifty years ago, a classic was born. A searing portrayal of the Mafia underworld, The Godfather introduced readers to the first family of American crime fiction, the Corleones, and their powerful legacy of tradition, blood, and honor. The seduction of power, the pitfalls of greed, and the allegiance to family—these are the themes that have resonated with millions of readers around the world and made The Godfather the definitive novel of the violent subculture that, steeped in intrigue and controversy, remains indelibly etched in our collective consciousness.
Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano
Summary of Elizabeth Street from Goodreads:
Based on true events, Elizabeth Street is a multigenerational saga that opens in an Italian village in the 1900's, and crosses the ocean to New York's Lower East Side. At the heart of the novel is Giovanna, whose family is targeted by the notorious Black Hand--the precursor to the Mafia.
Elizabeth Street brings to light a period in history when Italian immigrant neighborhoods lived in fear of Black Hand extortion and violence--a reality that defies the romanticized depiction of the Mafia.
Here, the author reveals the merciless terror of the Black Hand-and the impact their crimes had on her family. Giovanna is based on Fabiano's great-grandmother, and the book's heroes and villains - such as Lieutenant Petrosino, the crusading cop and "Lupo the Wolf," a cold-blooded criminal - are drawn from real life in this thrilling tale. While set in a dynamic historical context, Elizabeth Street is, above all, the dramatic story of the heroine, Giovanna, and how she triumphed over tragedy.
Killer Smile by Lisa Scottoline
Summary of Killer Smile from Goodreads:
A stunning new tale filled with witty dialogue, vibrant characters, and breakneck pacing, in which true-life history reinforces Scottoline's hallmark themes of justice and family.
Everybody around lawyer Mary DiNunzio has decided she isn't allowed to be a Young Widow anymore, even though she didn't know there was an official cutoff. They're all trying to fix her up -- her South Philly Italian parents, her best friend Judy Carrier, even the office security guard.
All Mary wants to do is immerse herself in a case everybody else calls "The History Channel", a pro bono representation of the Brandolini estate. The roots of the matter sink deep into the past, when Amadeo Brandolini emigrated to Philadelphia, started a family, and built up a small fishing business. At the outbreak of World War II, Brandolini was arrested by the FBI as part of a mass internment of Italian-Americans and was sent to a camp in Montana, where he eventually committed suicide. Now, more than sixty years later, his son's estate hires Mary to sue for reparations.
Mary vows to vindicate Amadeo even though it won't be easy. With only a lock of hair, an old wallet, and a sheet of paper filled with odd doodles to go on, the tenacious lawyer begins to research the case but finds instead puzzling new questions. Someone doesn't want Mary to find the truth, and before long, her life is threatened. Suddenly, the quiet, squeaky-clean good girl who never left Mercer Street is risking life and limb to finger a killer and lay a beloved ghost to rest.
New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline delivers a stunning new tale filled with witty dialogue, vibrant characters, and breakneck pacing, in which true-life history reinforces her hallmark themes of justice and family. As entertaining as it is poignant, Killer Smile is a surefire bestseller from a writer at the peak of her talents.
Killer Smile is also available on ElibraryNJ