Lucia, Lucia

I’ve just finished a quick read by Adriana Trigiani, Lucia, Lucia. Set in the vibrant New York City of 1950, Lucia, Lucia is the story of a passionate, determined young woman whose decision to follow her heart changes her life forever.

Lucia Sartori is the beautiful twenty-five-year-old daughter of a prosperous Italian grocer in Greenwich Village. The postwar boom is ripe with opportunities for talented girls with ambition, and Lucia becomes an apprentice to an up-and-coming designer at chic B. Altman’s department store on Fifth Avenue. Engaged to her childhood sweetheart, the steadfast Dante DeMartino, Lucia is torn when she meets a handsome stranger who promises a life of uptown luxury that career girls like her only read about in the society pages. Forced to choose between duty to her family and her own dreams, Lucia finds herself in the midst of a sizzling scandal in which secrets are revealed, her beloved career is jeopardized, and the Sartoris’ honor is tested.

Trigiani’s characters are well-drawn and believable. The storyline moved quickly, although the ending was weak. What I liked most about this book was that it was a window into my mother’s coming of age in Washington, DC of the same era. The descriptions of Lucia’s clothes and creations drew me back into the satin and crinoline-filled confections in Mom’s cedar closet. Like Lucia, my mom was a dead-ringer for Elizabeth Taylor in those years: svelte brunette, light eyes, great bone structure, beautifully dressed. My parents married in 1950, like Lucia, and my mother graduated college a year later. She worked for the first couple of years of marriage until my oldest brother was born.

The book drew me back to the elegance and grace of bygone city life. I love the fashions and passions and innocence of postwar America. I wish we were there again.

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