09 December 2013

Review: The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana TrigianiIt's no secret that I love Adriana Trigiani, who is generous, kind, funny, and full of life. It's also no secret that I love her writing: the way she makes her characters seem real and the true emotions she brings out in her readers.

The Supreme Macaroni Company, the final installment in the Valentine Roncalli trilogy, opens with Valentine's engagement to the love of her life, Gianluca Vechiarelli, and the ensuing family drama at the traditional Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes. For Valentine and Gianluca, the first couple years of married life are filled with the expected ups and downs, plus some added pressures that are at once unique to them and universal to modern couples everywhere.

Although Valentine doesn't doubt her love for Gianluca, she worries about their age difference, his relationship with his grown daughter and ex-wife, and whether he will truly accept her as she is. Gianluca is happiest in Italy, and Valentine is happiest in New York; he is looking forward to relaxing and enjoying life, and she is focusing on taking her family's shoe company to the next level. Finding a balance between work and family is difficult for all women (and men), but it seems to be extra hard for Valentine, who feels personally responsible for the business and its employees.

This struggle is a running theme in Valentine's new marriage. In fact, her choices and how they effect Gianluca are likely to become a central topic for book clubs. There are no rights or wrongs for Valentine, but readers will have strong opinions, which usually leads to fruitful book club discussions.

Trigiani knows family, especially the big, boisterous, sometimes contentious but always loyal family that people from many ethnic backgrounds are familiar with. My favorite scenes in the Valentine books involve her family--both the dramatic large gatherings and the loving heart-to-heart talks between siblings, parents, friends, and spouses. I had to laugh at (and nod in agreement with) the Roncalli clan's attitude toward food: make sure there is enough to feed an army, throw in a bit more just in case, and send everyone home with a goodie bag.

My only disappointment with The Supreme Macaroni Company is purely selfish: I wish I could see Valentine's future life. On the other hand, it's not a bad thing that Adriana Trigiani left me wanting more. I have faith that Valentine will learn from her past and will grow and thrive despite her hardships. I know this is the last planned Valentine book, but I can always hope for a fourth, can't I?

I listened to the unabridged audiobook edition (Harper Audio; 9 hr, 52 min) read by Cassandra Campbell, who is one of my favorite narrators. Campbell's clear, consistent, and believable characterizations had me hooked from the start. Her accents and voices seem so unforced that I sometimes forgot that hers was a solo performance. Campbell's tempered emotional level and thoughtful pacing are a good match for Trigiani's style.

Published by HarperCollins / Harper 2013
ISBN-13: 9780062136589
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Meg @ write meg! 12/9/13, 8:59 AM  

I agree that Trigiani definitely knows family -- and does an outstanding job highlighting their ups and downs. My favorite scenes involved the extended group, too, and made me long to be surrounded with overflowing bowls of pasta and lots of laughter! I struggled with parts of this story and wound up feeling angry toward Valentine, but it was a good read that made me think. And I would love to know what becomes of her in the future, too.

Beth Hoffman 12/9/13, 9:19 AM  

Terrific review! I love Adriana, both as a person and as a writer. Though I bought this book the moment it released, I've been holding off reading it because I'm going to be sad to say goodbye Valentine.

(Diane) bookchickdi 12/9/13, 9:29 AM  

You know I love Adriana as a person and writer as well, and I loved The Supreme Macaroni Company too. I also hope that this is not the end of Valentine's story, I so want to see where life leads her and her wonderful friends and family.

Anonymous,  12/9/13, 10:31 AM  

I am almost done reading this one right now, and am not loving it as much as I loved the first books in the series. I think it's because I have a hard time with Valentine's decisions and I get frustrated with how much - in my opinion - she takes Gianluca for granted. I'm curious to see how it ends. I am also reading this one in print, rather than listening to Campbell's amazing narration, and I wonder if I would be enjoying it more that way.

bermudaonion 12/9/13, 10:42 AM  

I've just started this and it's like I'm back with old friends. I love the family scenes too - they make me wish I had a large family.

Daryl 12/9/13, 1:47 PM  

there used to be a restaurant on 9th Avenue in the mid 30s called Supreme Macaroni Co.. the best pasta

i dont know her books i might just go get the first one


Vicki 12/9/13, 4:00 PM  

I haven't read this author yet. I think I'll go check her books out.

Kailana 12/9/13, 4:10 PM  

I didn't even know until recently that this was a trilogy. I have only read one book by her and it was a standalone. One day I will have to check this out.

Nise' 12/9/13, 8:56 PM  

I have this on audio because I love Cassandra as a narrator. Can't wait to get to Valentine!

Sheila (Bookjourney) 12/9/13, 11:10 PM  

She really breathes life into her characters. I want to jump into her books and join in the crazy fun.

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 12/11/13, 9:00 AM  

I was going to read this in print but when I saw Cassandra Campbell would be narrating I decided to go with the audio too.

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