The Shoemaker’s Daughter, is a lush portrayal of Northern Italy and immigration to Minnesota, the Iron country—between the very early 1900’s and the Second World War. It is a story of two families, of love and loss and immigration and struggles against all odds to succeed. And we learn that the story reflects many experiences and characters from the author’s own life.
Throughout the story we glean wonderful insights into Italian food, family, relationship to the Church, and to the flora and fauna of the Alps. The same can be said when the story moves to New York and Minnesota. Added to this the Italian love of music and art. The Great Caruso makes cameo appearances. And this, an abundance of description, is the only quality that I find over the top.
Ciro and his brother are left by their grieving mother into the care of nuns in a high Italian Alpine village. The father has disappeared after immigrating to America to care for his family…we learn he died in a mining accident. The mother’s grief incapacitates her. In spite of their abandonment by their mother both boys thrive in the warm, caring atmosphere of the nuns until Ciro has to flee to America to escape the anger of their parish priest.
On a memorable occasion he kissed a girl, Enza, after helping her with the burial of her much loved sister. Enza comes from a very close and loving family, but when they lose their house and their livelihood from running a carriage up and down the mountain, Enza and her father must emigrate to America.
She goes to New York whereas he goes to Minnesota to be apprenticed to a shoemaker. How they meet after the passage of years creates a touching love story. 4 of 5.