Book Notes: a positive portrayal of the immigrant experience
Adriana Trigiani’s novel The Shoemaker’s Wife is a fictional story based on her own grandparents’ experience. It begins in the early 1900s with the Lazzari brothers, Eduardo and Ciro, going into the care of nuns in the Italian Alps. The younger Ciro is a favorite of the nuns. After he witnesses a new priest in a compromising position with a parishioner, both brothers are banished from the convent. The nuns arrange for Ciro to go to New York City. Prior to leaving, he meets Enza Ravanelli from a nearby village and they fall in love.
Both Ciro and Enza emigrate to New York, neither aware of the other. After serving as a shoemaker’s apprentice, Ciro serves in WWI and gains U.S. citizenship. Meanwhile, Enza works as a seamstress to the stars of the Metropolitan Opera and sends most of her money back to Italy to help her family build a house.
The story follows Enza’s and Ciro’s near misses in reuniting. Eventually, just as Enza is about to marry someone else, she and Ciro do reunite, marry, and move to the Iron Range in northern Minnesota. Ciro opens a shoe shop to supply miners with handmade boots, and Enza designs and sews elegant costumes for society ladies.
The alternating perspectives of Ciro and Enza are used to tell this story of love, family, friendship, and loyalties. It is also about the immigrant experience.
UMRA’s Book Club members liked the book and its positive portrayal of the immigrant experience. Several thought the descriptions of Northern Italy were wonderful. One said she gained a new appreciation for the Iron Range though the author’s descriptions of “up and coming” Chisholm and Hibbing in early 1900s. A few members said some of the plot turns were implausible, but this just added to a very spirited discussion
At A Glance
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Luncheon + Forum
West Wing Dining Room
Joan Gabel, president
University of Minnesota
Living Well Workshop
Dale Shephard Room
How to keep our brains healthy
Pan-seared catfish with lemon aioli over red bean and rice, with seasonable vegetables.
For special dietary needs, please
request when making your
RSVP by November 12
Prepayment of $23 per person.
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(No RSVP required for workshops.)
Reserve and pay online or send
your check payable to ‘UMRA’ to
1147 Ivy Hill Drive
Mendota Heights, MN 55118
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UMRA's annual October benefits workshop gave members a preview of the University's latest health care and retirement savings plans.
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Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, is a chronicle of the life experiences that shaped who she has become.
Participants in UMRA's September Living Well Workshop learned that there are abundant on-campus learning opportunities for retirees at the U of M.
In a personal essay, UMRA member Lynn C. Anderson discusses "remembering" and the importance of being intentional.
Information about volunteer opportunities, both on campus and in the community, is now readily available through the University Retiree Volunteer Center’s new volunteer management system.
If so, UMRA’s Grants Committee encourages you to consider applying for a PDGR grant for the coming academic year. The grants are available to any U of M retiree.
Author Jack Zipes, a professor emeritus of German, Scandinavian, and Dutch, introduced UMRA’s September forum audience to Charles Godfrey Leland, “the forgotten folklorist of the 19th century.”
Meet UMRA member Bev Moe, a retired paralegal who has hiked the 500-mile Camino de Santiago and is still going strong!
If you've joined UMRA since November 1, 2018, please come to the New Member Welcome Reception and Orientation before the luncheon meeting on October 22.