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Adventures with book club

October 20, 2012
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

The book club I belong to has been looking for a change of venue for the last couple of months. When I joined back in 2005 (wow, can't believe it's been that long!), it was at Bound to Read, when it was still in the mall. Then we moved to the Bound to Read location on the corner of 3rd and Main. After the bookstore closed, we tried Bagels and Brew. But since that closed at 8 p.m., we hit upon Mike's Cafe. It isn't too busy at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday night, and hopefully the staff didn't mind a bunch of women armed with books, laughing and well, passing out more books as possible choices for the following month.

Last month, we selected Applebee's. It was a bit noisy and I had a hard time hearing people who were sitting across the table from me (we were in the corner booth). And we had a devil of a time trying to figure out what to eat (it's been awhile since going to Applebee's for some of us; the last few times I've been there I've had appetizers or dessert). It was good food and fun, but it was probably not the right place to have a book club meeting.

For this month, we read "The Shoemaker's Wife" by Adriana Trigiani and met at the Hitching Post. I remember seeing it in one of those BookPage publications and thinking "I really want to read this book, it sounds so good." Fortunately there were only two other holds on the book before mine, so I got it relatively quickly. Our book club is supposed to read "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn for November. I"m 30th on the waiting list; I started at 70. We'll see if we're able to read it for December's meeting as we bumped it back yet another month. Anyway, back to "The Shoemaker's Wife." It starts off in Italy in the early 1900s. A woman, who has lost her husband (he had gone to America, the Iron Range actually, to work in the mines and was killed, his body never found), decided to leave her two young sons, ages 10 and 11, at a convent since she's having a hard time caring for them. The book mainly follows the younger son, Ciro. As he hits his teens, a scene he witnessed at a church gets him sent to America. Before that all happened, he meets a young girl his age in another village, Enza. The story takes us through Ciro's apprenticeship with a shoemaker, World War I, Enza coming to America with her father so they could support their family, Enza working for the Met and then Enza and Ciro finally getting married and settling down in the Iron Range.

Trigiani was actually in Minnesota not too long ago - doing a book signing at Barnes and Noble in Edina. I remember seeing on her website that she was coming to Minnesota, but it was on a Thursday night - not exactly an easy time to get away, plus I didn't really see that tour date until a few days beforehand. Trigiani also has a Facebook page. So I notice a photo she posted of her Minnesota visit and how she had a fabulous time in Minneapolis and was on her way to St. Louis. So I "liked" her Facebook page and then typed up a quick comment on how I would've liked to have seen her in Edina, but I had to work and that my book club was reading "The Shoemaker's Wife" and how I started reading another one of her series ("Big Stone Gap" - fun series, almost finished with the fourth and last book). It was 68 responses deep, so who knows if she would even see it. But sure enough, she must have because she posted a response to a few of the other posters and then said to me "sorry I missed you in Minnesota, I'll be back." I thought that was just too cool, especially coming from a New York Times bestselling author. I couldn't wait to share that with book club. In the frequently asked questions on Trigiani's website (, she's asked why she doesn't blog and she replies with that she'd rather answer reader's e-mails personally and that's how she spends that part of the workday. I think that's great that she can take the time to do that. In fact, my book club did have a question about a character in "The Shoemaker's Wife." Members wondered how Enza's youngest sister, Stella died because she died of an ailment that come on suddenly (she had bruising and then a fever). I figured it was probably leukemia because Trigiani had another young character - the son of the main character in the "Big Stone Gap" series - with the same symptoms and it was said that he had leukemia. I'm not sure, but it seemed like a good guess.

So after book club this past Wednesday night, I posted on Trigiani's Facebook page saying that we loved the book even though not all have finished it. And yes, she did post a response.



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