A NovelBook - 2018
Love, ambition, and the consequences of both lie at the heart of this spellbinding epic of two working-class kids who become a successful singing act during the big band era of the 1940s.
Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada meet one summer on the Jersey shore before World War II. Chi Chi is a talented and ambitious singer-songwriter working in a local blouse factory looking for her big break, while Saverio, a singer already on the rise, is fronting a touring band and has the good looks and smooth vocals that make success seem assured. It isn't long before Saverio becomes Tony Arma and he and Chi Chi form a duo; together they navigate the glamorous worlds of nightclubs, radio, and television. Soon they're married and all goes well until it becomes clear that they must make a choice: Which of them will put ambition aside to build a family and which will pursue a career? What compromises will they make to achieve their dreams? And on the road to fame and fortune, how will they cope with the impact these compromises have on their marriage, family, and themselves?
From the Jersey shore to Hollywood, New York City to Las Vegas, the hills of northern Italy and the exuberant hayride of the big band circuit in between: Tony's Wife tells the story of the twentieth century in song, as Tony & Chi Chi make studio recordings and promote them with appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As they juggle the demands of their public lives, secrets are revealed, promises are broken, and loyalty is tested as the Armas attempt to keep the music playing and their family together.
Tony's Wife is a richly layered novel that explores how a traditional Italian-American family grapples with the seismic shifts they face in a rapidly changing world. Replete with a pageant of vivid, complex characters, this deeply human saga of love and sacrifice showcases Adriana Trigiani's gifts as a captivating storyteller and reveals her understanding that there are many different kinds of families: that over time love can evolve in ways that nobody can predict, especially when the hearts involved are open to forgiveness, the sweet reprise of redemption.
From Library Staff
SPL_Sonya Jan 14, 2019
Full review available under summary.
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Tony's Wife is the story of Saverio Armandonada and Chi Chi Donatelli. Saverio is a handsome, charming, talented entertainer with thick brown curls who was forced out of his parents' home in Detroit at the age of 16 for contemplating work as a singer. Chi Chi is a smart, independently minded, ambitious and gifted young woman who works as a seamstress in a blouse factory in Sea Isle City, New Jersey. With the support of her family, she sings and writes songs in her spare time.
Saverio and Chi Chi meet in 1938 and soon become a duo touring with a big band orchestra. Old world values clash with new world standards as Saverio agrees to change his name to Tony Arma. While Chi Chi proudly remembers that she comes from people who live life around a kitchen table, Saverio lives the life of a ladies' man. While serving in the Navy, Saverio shares his feelings for Chi Chi. Despite reservations, Chi Chi accepts Saverio's marriage proposal and so begins a journey of sacrifice, infidelity and regret; but also forgiveness, healing and love redefined.
Trigiani has a gift for taking the reader back in time with beautifully detailed descriptions -- the colour, texture and cut of a velvet jacket; the sight of beach umbrellas and towels on a Jersey shore, the sag of a wooden dance floor, the sounds of a large happy family, the aroma of roasted chestnuts and the taste of homemade wine.
Tony's Wife will appeal to readers who enjoy gentle, nostalgic, heart warming family sagas featuring well developed, likeable characters.
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