Sunday 17 December 2017

Review: Encore Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

(Simon & Schuster, €17)

When Gram and Dominic, two 80-somethings, walk up the aisle, a soft snow falls over Tuscany like glitter. There's talk of fate and heartwarming advice to those who haven't found love yet.

But before you start feeling too cosy, the dynamics of the Italian-American Roncalli family crank into gear. The bride's elderly sister, Aunt Feen, wrecks the mood when she keels over in a drunken stupor and has to be taken to hospital.

Adriana Trigiani (the American writer who is also our Weekend magazine agony aunt) already proved her gift for turning fairy tales on their head in the bestselling Very Valentine. And in this book, the second in a trilogy, our heroine Valentine is hardly back before she has more problems.

Her grandmother is moving to Italy to be with her new husband, leaving Valentine to manage the family business, Angelini Shoes, all alone.

And Gram has insisted that Valentine's difficult brother Alfred works as her partner.

Just as she tries to take her mind off things by falling into the arms of Gianluca, a long-term Tuscan admirer, there's another crisis.

Then the action moves to Greenwich Village, where the family have been making shoes since 1903.

Encore Valentine rattles along at an astonishing pace, throwing up hidden mistresses, family secrets and the possibility of tantalising romance.

It's hard not to be fond of headstrong Valentine, although sometimes you'd like to calm the endless chatter in her head.

Trigiani's characters are convincing and unpredictable, although Valentine's would-be Italian lover Gianluca seems too good to be true. Reading his sickly-sweet letters is a bit like eating too much white chocolate.

But just when the path to true love looks smooth, Trigiani steps in with a new twist and keeps you guessing.

- CF

Irish Independent

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