I’m originally from Queens, NY. I’m from a big, Catholic family that still chronicles life events by the parish they took place in. (“Remember when Michael was born? We must have been living in Elmhurst, because he was baptized at St. Bart’s.”) I love food and travel. And for many years my husband and I ran a business together. Little wonder, then, that I loved Adriana Trigiani’s The Supreme Macaroni Company. As usual, I felt like I knew every character in the book.
The novel (the third in Trigiani’s Valentine Trilogy) begins with couture Italian-American shoe designer Valentine Roncalli’s engagement to the older, infinitely handsome Gianluca Vechiarelli, an Italian leather maker. I found it a very satisfying place for an adult romance novel to begin. After all, anyone who’s been married for any length of time knows that’s when the work actually begins. And that’s exactly how it is for Valentine and Gianluca. Once the romantic haze of courtship is done, every couple is faced with making one life out of two separate ones. The Supreme Macaroni Company celebrates the hard work, negotiation and forbearance that make a marriage work – along with a healthy dose of good humor.
One of the core elements of the book is the unexpected culture clash that comes with the marriage of an Italian-American woman to an Italian man. So much of Valentine’s definition of self in the earlier book was wrapped up in her ethnicity. In the US, she’s Italian-American – emphasis on the “Italian” part. But as she spends time with her Italian husband and his extended family – his pregnant daughter and his enigmatic ex-wife, especially – she is forced to redefine her emphasis, becoming increasingly aware of the “American” part of the equation:
During my travels in Italy, the Italian wives seemed practical and a little removed. There appeared in them a resignation to the order and roles established in life as it had been for generations. How was I going to continue to be the woman I was, split between these two cultures, who had little in common when it came to a woman’s ambition and drive? I figured I was in for it. What, I didn’t know. But I loved Gianluca and figured it had to go my way. This is also the hallmark of an American sensibility. Things naturally work out for the best when intention is clear. Or do they? p. 104
The Supreme Macaroni Company is so much more than chic lit, although I have seen it described that way. It continues Trigiani’s ongoing meditation on the vanishing world of fine craftsmanship. It also delves into the economic issues involved in America’s cheaper-is-better, import-driven economy. But it remains a romance at its heart, and I enjoyed almost every page of it. Every page, that is, until the ending, which I found absolutely heartbreaking, especially as the end of a trilogy. I thought it was just too sad a way to finish, undercutting the overall tone of the series, I thought. It’s listed as the last book in a trilogy, but I’m hoping that it also marks the start of another series, because I would really hate to be saying good-bye to Valentine and her family forever.
I read this as part of a TLC Book Tour. I received a free copy of the book in return for my honest opinion. And I honestly loved it! Thanks, as always, for including me on the tour. Please check the other stops on the tour for additional opinions about The Supreme Macaroni Company. Sorry this post is a bit late - the end of the semester combined with Christmas to keep me from the fun stuff!