Thursday, July 30, 2009
Ambivalent Book Review
I managed to read an entire book this summer, what with all of the work and grading papers and preparing for the French visitor. I like the way Adriana Trigiani writes and I've enjoyed her stories set in Appalachia. Very Valentine is set in New York City and the main character takes a trip to the home country, Italy.
The main character Valentine is 33 and she makes custom shoes with her grandmother. Trigiani has some beautiful description of clothes and shoes in this novel. I guess what separates it from Chick Lit is that she doesn't just drop names of designers, but gives some real details about the clothes and shoes. Valentine's a likable character and her family has a number of idiosyncracies for her to deal with.
The twist in the plot here (spoiler alert) is that while debating the merits of two hunky Italian men, the heroine ends up choosing to be alone in the end and focus on her career. I can understand that the author was trying to show that women don't need men to be happy. I agree, but that's another blog post... The ending just fell a little dead, especially since it was left open that she would always love the American Italian guy, but they were both too busy with their careers. And she would see the Italian guy again in the upcoming year.
The heroine, Valentine, also took a lot of crap from the Italian American guy. He cancelled night after night; he said he'd meet her in Capri(that's right, Italy) then didn't show because of work. And one night she walked in the restaurant he owned and found him with a blonde who was interviewing to be a maitre'd. The two were flirting and touching. Problem was that he had said he was having electrical work done, not interviewing a maitre'd. With each snafu she blamed herself for not being "present" enough for him. In retrospect, that really bugs me. Why do woman always have to take the blame if something is going wrong in a relationship? She even managed to tell him she was sorry, and I was left wondering for what. Sorry I interrupted your date with a blonde? I should have called ahead.
So, even though she took a strong stand at the end, it didn't seem true to her character. I would have liked to see her get mad at the way he treated her instead of ending with an "I'll always love him."
What do you think: do women always blame themselves when a relationship fails?
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