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The Shoemaker's Wife has been my artistic obsession for over 20 years. My grandparents, Lucia and Carlo, were star-crossed lovers at the turn of the 20th century. The world events that played out against the backdrop of their meeting and eventual marriage were enormous and had a lasting and profound effect on their lives.
My grandmother was working in a factory in Hoboken in 1917 when she met my grandfather who was on his way to fight in World War I. Their conversation began because she heard him speak Italian in her native dialect. They soon realized that they were from villages only a few miles apart in the Italian Alps. It was a balm for both of them to know that they came from the same place. My grandfather went off to war while she stayed behind in her new country. They fell in love through their letters to one another.
The story of their love affair was romantic and yet, there were so many obstacles that it was a wonder that they got together at all. I wanted to write their story since I first heard it, but it took some life experience to have the confidence to tell it. Like a beautiful garment, the story had to be constructed carefully and then embellished with just the right details. Lucia and Carlo became Enza and Ciro, and their story became The Shoemaker's Wife.
I imagined my grandmother's girlhood dreams. She was a big Enrico Caruso fan, so I placed the young seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera during his heyday. My grandparents were there as the invention of machines created a manufacturing boom, while telephones, airplanes, and cars made the world accessible and modern. I hoped my reader would experience the same excitement I felt when my grandmother spoke of those days, when everything was new and everything was possible.
Thank you for making The Shoemaker's Wife a part of the Ladies' Home Journal Book Club. I'm honored to be on the list with your previous selections and authors.
My mother is a lifelong subscriber to the Ladies' Home Journal and so am I. Through the years we have been educated, dazzled, and entertained by the articles and stories on these pages, so to be chosen for your book club is a prize when none was required. It's such a thrill and I can't wait to see what your next book selection will be!
New York City