Brought to you by OBS reviewer JoAnne
For over a hundred years, the Angelini shoe company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This ancient business partnership provides the twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the schoolteacher turned shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past…and a secret.
But after the wedding celebrations are over, Valentine wakes up to the hard reality of juggling the demands of a new business and the needs of her new family. Confronted with painful choices, Valentine remembers the wise words that inspired her in the early days of her beloved Angelini Shoe Company:
“A person who can build a pair of shoes can do just about anything.”
Now the proud, passionate Valentine is going to fight for everything she wants and savor all she deserves-the bitter and the sweet of life itself.
Romantic and poignant, told with humor and warmth, and bursting with a cast of endearing characters, The Supreme Macaroni Company is a sumptuous feast of delights: an unforgettable narrative about family, work, romance, and the unexpected turns of life and fate. (From the book).
Valentine has inherited the shoe company that her grandfather and grandmother started. She makes custom shoes, and takes pride in her work. She employs a cutter, Gabriel, who is also her roommate and conscience, and her brother Alfred handles the financial end of the business. She buys her leather from Italy, and it is because of this she has met Gianluca, a tanner and part owner of the company which provides the leathers. Gianluca is older than her and divorced, and he has asked her to marry him.
This is where I felt the book began with problems. She is very concerned with the fact that he is older than her; when people note he’s “twenty years older,” she practically screams “eighteen!” as if she has to defend herself. She even lies about the age difference to an old boyfriend, which I didn’t understand. If you’re not concerned with the age difference, why lie? This was only the beginning.
While I truly enjoyed Gianluca – he seemed to have real love for Valentine, and wanted her to be happy, no matter what it took, even if it meant giving up residing in Tuscany, his home – she didn’t appear to have the same concern for him. Everything she did had to be “her way or the highway,” even when she promised him she would discuss things with him first. She appeared to be selfish and self-serving, putting Gianluca on the back burner for her career and what she wanted out of life. This doesn’t seem to be a very good recipe for marriage; nor even one for a partnership. I found myself wondering if they had merely been business partners how long the professional relationship would last. He tolerated an awful lot from her, and it was as if she knew what he was giving up, but really didn’t care. She somehow thought that marriage wouldn’t change anything in her life, and believed she was “gaining a tanner” (marriage is a partnership, not a plan. You need to have consideration and respect for each other; and if it’s not good for one, it won’t be good for the other).
I’m not saying this is a bad book, or not to read it. It is written very well, and there were moments that brought tears to my eyes. There are some very descriptive scenes of Italy and the surrounding countryside; and you understand why her rooftop garden in New York means a lot to her. Yet while she remains ‘a fixer’ in her own family (taking care of problems so they don’t escalate), I didn’t get the feeling that she was willing to take care of those between her and Gianluca. She acted as if there were no problems at all. When this was pointed out several times by Gabriel, I felt she listened, but didn’t act on it.
Still, it’s worth reading just to get the chance to ‘meet’ Gianluca. He is tolerant and loving toward her, willing to do whatever it takes to make her happy. He seems to know what Valentine wants and does try to bring out the best in her (and to be honest, there are moments where she does ‘think aloud’ that she loves him and how he makes her feel secure, but is that love?). It takes place over the course of two years in her life, and I would suggest you read the book, because everyone sees books differently, and might enjoy it more than I did.
*OBS would like to thank the author and TLC Book Tours for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*