Adriana Trigiani, author of the hugely popular BIG STONE GAP trilogy, returns with a much-anticipated stand-alone novel, LUCIA, LUCIA. Set in 1950s New York City, LUCIA, LUCIA is a tale far removed from Trigiani's familiar rural Blue Ridge Mountain setting so lovingly portrayed in BIG STONE GAP, but it is, in its own way, a love letter to a unique time and place as only Trigiani can write.
LUCIA, LUCIA opens in modern day Greenwich Village when Kit Zanetti, a struggling young playwright, is invited to tea by her elderly upstairs neighbor "Aunt Lu." Out of a polite respect, Kit feels obligated to accept but isn't particularly thrilled with the prospect of spending an entire afternoon with the older woman. Her mind is quickly changed when she enters Lu's apartment for the first time and discovers a "chintz wonderland" filled with the fabulous knick-knacks of a long and interesting life. When Kit inquires about the gorgeous full-length mink coat she spies hanging on a dressmaker's mannequin tucked back in an alcove, Lu begins her story.
Born the youngest child, and only girl, in a large and boisterous Italian family, 25-year-old Lucia Sartori is the crown jewel of the Sartori family. Besides being the most beautiful girl in Greenwich Village, Lucia is also a bright and successful career girl in a time when opportunities were just beginning to present themselves to women. She is happily employed by upscale B. Altman's department store as a seamstress in their custom department, apprenticing to Delmarr, an up-and-coming young designer waiting for his big break. Lucia still lives in the attic-level bedroom where she grew up but is soon to be married to her childhood sweetheart, Dante DiMartino, son of the local baker.
Plans for the upcoming nuptials are sailing along smoothly until Lucia learns that Dante's controlling and overbearing mother, Claudia, expects Lucia to quit her job immediately after the wedding to stay home and help her future mother-in-law take care of the house and the children that she will unquestionably bear. Shocked and angry that she would have to choose between being a wife and having a career, Lucia breaks off the engagement without a second thought. Her decision causes unease in the Sartori family when Lucia's mother, Maria, reveals that a curse was placed on Lucia while she was still in the womb by a jealous and scheming aunt. The "Caterina Curse", as it is dubbed by Lucia's eldest brother Roberto, was placed on Lucia to ensure that the girl, while beautiful, would ultimately die alone and of a broken heart. Lucia dismisses the curse as old-world superstition and forgets about it altogether when she meets the mysterious and charming John Talbot while browsing one day in the interior design department at B. Altman's.
John sweeps Lucia off her feet and offers her a glimpse into the uptown world of luxury and wealth that most girls in her neighborhood can only dream about. Lucia and John quickly become engaged and Lucia puts all her trust, not to mention her savings, into the future John has promised her. While her father has serious doubts about John --- it's never quite clear exactly what he does for a living --- Lucia is certain he is the one for her. Forced to choose between her family and her own happiness, Lucia finds herself in the middle of a society scandal and is forced to forge a new path for herself.
Filled with the same brand of lively and engaging characters that made Adriana Trigiani's past three novels so successful, LUCIA, LUCIA will not disappoint fans looking for the same bighearted, warm humor that was introduced in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. A hip, new locale and vivacious new heroine should earn her some new ones.
Reviewed by Melissa Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org) on June 29, 2004
Lucia, Lucia: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)