"Brava, Valentine" By Adriana Trigiani, Sequel to "Very Valentine"
Trigiani's books aren't merely escapist romances. She tackles a variety of issues in her books, from such domestic issues as adultery to the family stress of a cancer diagnosis, to bigger-picture issues such as mountaintop removal (in her bestselling "Big Stone Gap" series, set in the small Virginia town in which she grew up).
Trigiani, a former television writer, is also also author of novels Lucia, Lucia; Queen of the Big Time and Rococo ; the nonfiction Don?t Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from my Grandmothers, and the young-adult novel Viola in Reel Life.
Wherever Adriana Trigiani is, She's Home
Miami Herald; By Connie Ogle; Friday, Jan. 14, 2011
Adriana Trigiani's "Brava, Valentine"
is the sequel to "Very Valentine."
?Shoemaking was a way into my themes", says Trigiani, ."Shoes represent people who come together and make something. And now the whole thing has been turned on its ear. Here in the United States, we?re not making stuff anymore. That?s not to say we can?t make cars or computers. But people felt a real pride of ownership when they made shoes. That?s gone now."
Trigiani?s books aren?t merely escapist romances, as you may gather from her passion on this subject. She tackles a variety of issues in her books, from such domestic issues as adultery to the family stress of a cancer diagnosis, to bigger-picture issues such as mountaintop removal (in her bestselling Big Stone Gap series, set in the small Virginia town in which she grew up).
?The publisher reads my book and says, ?We gotta sell this thing,? so they put a couple in a clinch on the cover,?? says Trigiani, a former television writer who?s also author of the stand-alone novels Lucia, Lucia; Queen of the Big Time and Rococo ; the nonfiction Don?t Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from my Grandmothers, and the young-adult novel Viola in Reel Life.
?Men tell me: ?If the cover were different we?d pick up your book.? But I write for everybody ? librarians, teachers, bakers, stay-at-home moms, working moms, everyone.?
Q: You?ve written books set in Virginia, Italy, New York, Buenos Aires. Why is location such an important part of your work?
It?s my obsession with the concept of home. If you really deconstruct my books they?re about two things. One is: What do we do with our work? What do we make with the labor of our own hands, whether it?s spaghetti or shoes? Two, who do we love? Those two things really feed into the concept of home and the question of how do you feel at home wherever you are. Because I have to travel in spurts ? I have long stretches where I?m home ? I have to make where I go home. I?m starting a new thing where I just surrender at airports instead of getting agitated.
Q: One of the best and funniest scenes in the book takes place at a Thanksgiving dinner where all hell breaks loose. You come from a big family with five sisters. Is that why you enjoy writing about family so humorously?
I love that scene! I acted it out. It took me a year to write that chapter. They?re at each other?s throats. I love that old aunt, who?s so jealous of her sister getting married at 80. I just love that stuff. That?s what it means to be a family. I think you can have some of your biggest belly laughs at a funeral or saddest moments in the arms of your love. These things interplay. Given my druthers, I write comedy. The poignant notes emerge from something real. I?m in the world with these people. That?s why it?s a big challenge to write the movie of Very Valentine. It?s really hard when you?re reading, and you?re engaged in it, and when you go to put it in script, you don?t have the lushness of those half-page speeches where someone goes on a rant. You have to dramatize. It?s a challenge I love.
Q: When did you start the Adriana Trigiani Tours of Italy?
Twenty-two years ago, I was in Italy traveling with my girlfriends, and we were staying in the pensione in Rome . There was this American girl staying across the way named Gina. . . . We stayed friends all these years. Our daughters are 8. In fact, my daughter is at a play date at her apartment right now. . . . I told her, ?I need your help. I need to learn how to make shoes.? She put together a tour for me, and it was unbelievable. She found the best boutique hotels. I turned to her on the isle of Capri and said, ?Could you do this for my readers?? But it had to be economical. I wanted them to have the experience of a lifetime. So we launched last year, and she figured out an incredible tour designed for readers. You go where the characters go, stay in the places they stay. The Valentine tour is doing Tuscany this year. Last year we did Rome, Naples, Sorrento and the Isle of Capri.
We?re now doing walking tours of New York and will do one of Big Stone Gap. I think we have a sense of what will make it a unique experience. Lucia, Lucia is set in Greenwich Village, and we meld together points of interest from New York in the 1950s and walk by the buildings that inspired me. Now we?re creating a progressive restaurant thing through the village. You have appetizers at one place, dinner at another. We thought we?d just walk through the Village and give a tour, but we had to become licensed and pass a test. The city wanted their cut! But I guess this makes sense. You can?t just put on a headset and act like you know what you?re doing. [You can read more about the tours at adrianitrigiani.com/tours.]
Q: You live in Greenwich Village now. What do you love about New York?
I blame my librarians from Big Stone Gap. They gave me books about New York. I must have read Harriet the Spy a hundred times. I was obsessed with living in New York. Where I live, it?s like a small town. We have to shovel our walk and steps. We have that sense of small-town life. But everything?s here. And this city has changed. In the 1980s there were no children here; people with kids moved to the suburbs. Now you can?t walk down the streets without seeing kids. Urban life has completely changed. This is what happens to cities. Somebody told me that in Greenwich Village, since 9/11, the population has doubled. City life is not what people think. It?s mostly working people who love the convenience of city life who don?t need or want a car. You never have to drive! And it?s a great city to get old in - you have doormen everywhere.
Connie Ogle is book editor of The