Saturday, June 19, 2010
Brava, Valentine: A Novel by Adriana Trigiani is the second in the Valentine series. I reviewed the first is the series, Very Valentine: A Novel, here. As you can see in that review, I fell in love with the characters so I was anxious to move onto the next book in the series and see what happens to Valentine, Alfred and the entire crazy Roncalli clan. Brava, Valentine definitely did not disappoint and now I am waiting for the final book in the series, due out in February 2011!
Valentine Roncalli works at her family's custom show company in New York's West Village (love that neighborhood!) and this novel follows her pursuit of a career in the family business and her efforts to take the helm of the business and grow it in new directions as her grandmother exits. Her ascent to head of the company is complicated by her brother, Alfred, and his lack of faith in her business skills and inability to understand her need to keep the "family" in family business. Beyond their divergent views on business, they also view families and relationships very differently and that makes for some interesting tension in their work life and in their family's gatherings.
Valentine really begins to grow into herself in this book and takes ownership of her role as creative head of the family business. I liked seeing this evolution in this character - in Very Valentine, she seemed reluctant to own that role and see her talents as a shoe designer whereas in this book she is almost empowered by her talent and takes the lead more naturally. With her growing career, come questions about work/life balance and whether she wants a family and how to have that family and dedicate the time necessary to build her business - a never-ending dilemma to which most readers can relate. Her challenged love life from book one continues and I found myself hoping she would get out of her own way and just let love happen to her!
There is so much more to this book than the snapshot I have offered above in the plot summary - Valentine uncovers a long lost family secret and travels to Buenos Aires to learn more about it, she faces infidelity in her family and the loss of a close friend. The book is fantastic and offers a deeper dive into the characters from book one. In fact, in her Blog Talk Radio interview about Very Valentine, the author talks about how she enjoys writing books in series of threes so that she can really "crack" a character and develop them more fully. I saw that in this book as she offers more insight into Valentine's brother Alfred, and what makes him tick - he moves from relatively one dimensional in book one to much more complex in book two.
Adriana Trigiani is an artful storyteller and she creates characters that are easy to love- I discovered her The Big Stone Gap series years ago and loved it and am so happy to have found another series to fall into! You can listen to Adriana Trigiani talk about Brava Valentine in her second Blog Talk Radio interview where she offers insight into where some of the twists in the novel came from and her book recommendations for non-fiction and fiction. It's good to have some recommendations to tie me over until the release of the third Valentine book in February 2011!
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing this book for review