Within the pages of "The Shoemaker's Wife" is a timeless love story but there's also a story of courage and determination, of hope and survival.
The characters overcome obstacles of loss and the fickleness of fate as they grow from children to adults and work steadily toward their dreams.
Ciro Lazzari is left with his brother at a convent, and they are confused that his mother would abandon her sons. Ciro is charged with keeping his younger brother safe, but he works hard and rises to the challenges.
Enza Ravanelli is already, for all practical purposes, mother to her younger siblings as she keeps house in the mountains of Italy. She's smart, quick to learn and impressed with the young man who comes to dig her sister's grave.
Both love their native land but both choose to leave and travel to America to make enough money to someday return.
They come through Ellis Island as part of a constant stream of immigrants from Europe, looking for jobs and answers.
Throughout this story, there are rich detail and good storytelling that make the characters come alive without burying the reader with too much.
There's no sense of contrivance, even though Ciro and Enza meet, part, meet again and part several times before they eventually seize their chance at enduring love.
This book also avoids the cliche. The characters lead fairly ordinary lives without impending doom on every turn that sometimes come with lengthy stories. The circumstances that force some of their decisions are believable, the bad things that happen are dealt with.
When Enza meets and sews (and cooks macaroni) for the legendary Enrico Curuso, it feels completely probable.
When Ciro survives the war in France, it's with scars and wounds that every soldier would carry home. There are no spectacular heroics or shifts in story that interrupts the flow of words.
Here is a good choice for a book to take to the beach or haul out for a night in a cozy chair.
It's charming and easy to read with clean language and the romance doesn't go farther than kissing.
There's a wealth of information to enjoy about the time period, Italy, New York, the Metropolitan Opera House, costume wear and shoemaking.
Plus, it has a happy ending.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.