Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani
|Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An entertaining read about nineteen-fifties New York which is probably better borrowed from the library as you're unlikely to re-read.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: April 2004|
|Publisher: Pocket Books|
I hope I'm not being patronising when I refer to this as a sweet little book, because that's exactly what it is. It's not great literature or even a great story. It's simply a very enjoyable read on a summer afternoon when it's really too hot to do anything more energetic than find somewhere shady to sit and read.
Lucia Sartori is the beauty of Greenwich Village in New York. She's the youngest child and only daughter of the family and she's a very talented seamstress and dressmaker. What she isn't is lucky in love. Set in the early nineteen fifties it's the story of her life and of her family from the time that she goes to work at the B. Altman department store.
It's a nice story about the big, Catholic family with their roots still firmly in the Veneto and the women in the kitchen. Lucia is different. She wants to work, to make something of her life, but her family and her fiancé's family assume that she'll give up work once she's married. She's torn three ways, between her family, her career and the man she loves. This is the story of how she resolves the conflicting interests.
The picture painted of early nineteen-fifties New York is vivid. At one end of the social scale are the people who can afford haute couture and who must abide by the social niceties. "As the day lengthens, so do her gloves" they said and any woman who didn't abide by this was damned socially. For a woman to be seen without gloves of the correct length was simply not done. At the other end of the scale are the families with several generations living cheek-by-jowl and young wives moving in with their in-laws as a matter of course. Lucia's problem is that she lives in one world and aspires to the other.
Characterisation is good if not outstanding. The central character is Lucia and she's well drawn. I warmed to her, empathised with her but others are not so vivid. Even towards the end of the book I was having difficulty is distinguishing one of Lucia's brothers from another - and she only had three. The man she fell in love with is two dimensional at best.
Considerable research must have been done into the way in which an haute couture workroom operated as all the details are there. I've been taught dressmaking by someone with the skills Lucia possessed and Trigiani brings them all to life, particularly when she writes about garments being fitted and how a perfectly fitted outfit can dramatically change the way that a person looks. It was strange too to see how in the nineteen-fifties it was obvious that skills were being lost, how there were fewer and fewer people capable of dressmaking to this standard. Today we're increasingly unlikely to be able to cook our own food and it makes me wonder where it will all end.
One thing I wasn't keen on was the "bookend" format. The story begins with Kit, an aspiring playwright, being invited to tea by Lucia and once there Lucia tells her story. Most of the book is this story, told in the first person. Towards the end we revert to Kit and she brings the story up-to-date. I can understand why it was done this way, but Kit did seem rather superfluous and too obvious a device.
Yes, it's chick lit, pure and simple, but it does have the feel good factor. There are no scenes of explicit sexuality and no violence. It's just a simple, comforting read for those times when you really don't want to make the effort with anything more demanding.
If you enjoy this type of book you might like to look at Anthony Capella's The Food of Love, a modern-day reworking of the Cyrano de Bergerac tale.
You can read more book reviews or buy Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani at Amazon.com.
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