Release date: November 20, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Shortly before World War II, Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada meet one summer on the Jersey shore and fall in love. Both are talented and ambitious, and both share the dream of becoming singers for the legendary orchestras of the time: Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman. They’re soon married, and it isn’t long before Chiara and Tony find that their careers are on the way up as they navigate the glamorous worlds of night clubs, radio and television. All goes well until it becomes clear that they must make a choice: Which of them will put their ambitions aside to raise a family and which will pursue a career? And how will they cope with the impact that decision has on their lives and their marriage?
From the Jersey shore to Las Vegas to Hollywood, and all the dance halls in between, this multi-layered story is vivid with historical color and steeped in the popular music that serves as its score. Tony’s Wife is a magnificent epic of life in a traditional Italian family undergoing seismic change in a fast paced, modern world. Filled with vivid, funny and unforgettable characters, this richly human story showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a storyteller and her deep understanding of family, love and the pursuit of the American dream.
Trigiani is an author that has come highly recommended to me ever since I decided to try reading more historical fiction and after reading my first book by her, I can definitely see the appeal. There is something utterly effortless about her style, this was almost 500 pages and I read it in twenty four hours if that tells you anything! I just found it very easy to be caught up in Chi Chi and Tony’s lives and just had to know what would happen to them.
This begins when Tony and Chi Chi are both teenagers and follows them the rest of their lives, both individually and together. They’re both musicians and I love the Big Band Era, it was such a fun piece of musical history and the author did a great job of bringing it to life. While the majority is set on the east coast the characters did travel to the west coast as well which is always fun to see how things might have been in the fifties in California and Las Vegas.
The best part of this for me was the characterization, following them both throughout their lives really built an attachment for me, especially to Chi Chi. She was a one of a kind woman, fierce and daring and way ahead of the times, the kind of character that stays with you long after you’ve finished the book. Recommended for fans of HF but especially those who enjoy music.
Tony’s Wife in three words: Engaging, Nostalgic and Endearing.
Overall rating: 4/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.