Is happily ever after an illusion? Is there really only one person for each soul? Do we often choose our partners for the wrong reasons and is that why marriages tend to have a higher failure rate?
In The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani, we find ourselves immersed in the lives of two young boys who are given over to a convent for nurture when their father is killed in a mine accident and their mother no longer has the immediate means to raise them. With every intention of coming back for them once she is on her feet, she disappears and they are left to the mercies of the church. Different personalities and looks the brothers are none the less, the closest of friends.
The nuns grow to love them, the elder brother Edward plans on dedicating his life to religion but Ciro does not have any interest in that direction. He is large and imposing even from a young age, and takes after his father. Not sure what he will do, he is very like most boys as they mature. He loves girls, and is constantly in love with one or another, always seeming to get his heart broken. But he does not care, he finds life to be exciting and he is well loved in return for his gregarious nature.
When Ciro sets sights on one of the loveliest girls in the village where he resides in the Italian Alps, he does not realize that he is not only doomed to failure, but that his life will suddenly take a turn that will twist him away from all he knows and loves and put him into a country across the ocean just coming into its own, America.
Following his heart he decides to approach his lovely soon-to-be conquest, only to find her in the arms of the priest. Unsure where to turn he takes his concern back to the convent, but finds that while they are not surprised the sisters understand that the priest is inviolate. As Ciro loses his job with the church and while he waits to see what will happen, he takes on a job of digging the grave for a family farther away. The youngest sibling has perished, and little does he know it, but meeting the eldest sister Ensa, a young woman his own age, he finds their fates intertwined time after time, and as he agrees to see her again, he finds himself shipped off to America.