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Lucia, Lucia a light, breezy read

Observer Scene | Sunday, September 12, 2004

Not all books donning a beautiful woman in a dress on the cover have to be about a girl in love with love. While this statement may seem impossible, or at least highly unlikely, it proves true in Adriana Trigiani’s novel “Lucia, Lucia.” Is love mentioned? Of course, but in Trigiani’s trip through the 1950’s, viewed through the eyes of a girl with modern notions, love of men is not the only focus. “Lucia, Lucia” traces the life of young Lucia Sartori, a beautiful 25-year old workingwoman in New York City circa 1950. The only daughter in a family of seven, her four Italian brothers prove to be half of the bodyguards of her protective father, the owner of a traditional Italian “Groceria” in Greenwich Village. The novel takes the reader on a journey through Lucia’s suitors, heartbreaks and family ties. While the setting and subject may seem cliché, and at times is, Trigiani creates a world of love and loyalty that requires a true Italian spirit to understand.The character of Lucia Sartori is interesting on the whole; however, the working girl who wants to break out of the traditional bounds of society and tradition is a bit over-played. Her stubbornness begins to seem a bit unbelievable by the end of the novel, but perhaps only because Lucia is an affable character that one wants to like. At the end, she seems merely to be a person with incredible standards for herself. Most of the other characters are generally flat, and while endearing, are not especially riveting. Even the villain of the novel is predictable in his double personality.Overall, what stands out most in “Lucia, Lucia” is the incredibly strong family of Sartori’s. While the four brothers leave much to be desired, the mother and father are tremendous characters on which the entire story is built. One begins to get a real sense of what it means to be an Italian family as the drama of the Sartori’s unwinds throughout Trigiani’s novel. The most moving parts of the novel, both toward happiness and angst, were not ones involving the life choices of Lucia, but those of the hardships and joy of the Sartori family. Individually, the family members are not entirely fascinating and come off as archetypical. As a whole, each member of the Sartori family contributes to a much larger and memorable character that is the Sartori family.The actual writing of the novel is well done, but not necessarily engrossing. Trigiani creates beautiful and impressive scenes, but the actions and dialogue of the characters within those scenes are lackluster and often cliché. Lines like, “When people are filled to the brim with love, they are their most beautiful” prove the clichéd nature of “Lucia, Lucia.” With this line, Trigiani hits a truth, but one that is widely known and not cleverly stated. Adriana Trigiani is best known for her bestselling novels “Big Stone Gap, Big Cherry Holler and Milk Glass Moon.” She is also an award-winning playwright, television writer and documentary filmmaker. There is no question she is a talented writer and spins a terrific story, but “Lucia, Lucia” misses the mark of a great novel. Wholly entertaining and beautiful to read, it is the kind of book that can easily be set down and forgotten about. The tale of Lucia Sartori is clever and cute, to say the least, but not compelling.Overall “Lucia, Lucia” is a well-written cute story with some strong points. Recommended for love-sick women who need a dose of “I’m every woman” girl power, but otherwise, it may be more fruitful to look for something a bit more substantial. It is a good novel with a few beautifully moving sections, but that is about all there is to it. Entertainment Weekly calls it “a breezy read” and there really is not a better way to describe “Lucia, Lucia.” It is sweet and prettily written, but beyond one or two powerful moments provided by the strength of the family, there is simply not much to it.