I've been doing a lot of reading in the past month. Some for research and some for pure pleasure. I recieve ARC's from a large publishing house, those are advanced reader copies and are bound books with the cover artwork but get another pass before final printing.
The story I just finished, Very Valentine, by Adriana Trigiani, was absolutely fabulous. The cover artwork alone made me feel good. So rich, so colorful. If I'd seen this in a bookstore it would have called to me, just like the little red high heels with the black bow that waved to me from a store window in Rome a few years ago. And yes, I bought them. : )
I found Very Valentine, which by the way comes out this month, to be as strong in character and description and content, as its beautiful cover. The characters, mostly Italian, are vibrant and colorful and very real. I knew them, and I'm not Italian. There was the right mix of humor, crazy family dynamics, romance, and armchair travel. Sigh. Now I want a trip to both NYC and Tuscany.
Ms. Trigiani does a great job with setting, incorporating it as a sensual character. She does the same with the cooking scenes, bringing in food aromas and mouthwatering tastes, and the texture of leathers and materials used in the making of shoes. Her love scenes are deftly written without explicit sex scenes, romance is always at the core. One of the things that resounded with me though, were her characters, so big, so full of life they almost leaped off the page. The heroine's story revolved around her grandmother's custom shoe shop in NYC. Ms. Trigiani's grandfather had owned a shoe shop in Minnesota in the 1930's. The things I learned about making shoes will stay with me for a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed learning something that is obviously dear to the author's heart. And that's what makes this story so wonderful, it has heart at its center.
So, what are you reading?