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Meet Adriana Trigiani, author of "Brava, Valentine"

Adriana Adriana Trigiani’s grandfather learned to be a shoemaker when tradesmen visited his orphanage in the Italian Alps and taught the boys ways to make a living.

Trigiani’s craft –writing – is just a bit different but no less hands on. And her grandfather’s trade is the cornerstone of her new novel. In the warm, funny Brava, Valentine (Harper, $14.99 in paper), the second in a series, wise-cracking Greenwich Village designer Valentine Roncalli works to build up the family’s small shoemaking business – left to her by her grandmother, who has just remarried at 80 – while coping with her raucous Italian-American family and fretting over a hesitant romance with a sexy (and older) Italian tanner she met in the previous book, Very Valentine.

“Shoemaking was a way into my themes,” says Trigiani, who appears at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Books & Books in Coral Gables. “Shoes represent people who come together and make something. And now the whole thing has been turned on its ear. Here in the United States, we’re not making stuff anymore. That’s not to say we can’t make cars or computers. But people felt a real pride of ownership when they made shoes. That’s gone now.”

Brava Trigiani’s books aren’t merely escapist romances, as you may gather from her passion on this subject. She tackles a variety of issues in her books, from such domestic issues as adultery to the family stress of a cancer diagnosis, to bigger-picture issues such as mountaintop removal (in her bestselling Big Stone Gap series, set in the small Virginia town in which she grew up).

“The publisher reads my book and says, ‘We gotta sell this thing,’ so they put a couple in a clinch on the cover,’’ says Trigiani, a former television writer who’s also author of the stand-alone novels Lucia, Lucia; Queen of the Big Time and Rococo ; the nonfiction Don’t Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from my Grandmothers, and the young-adult novel Viola in Reel Life.

“Men tell me: ‘If the cover were different we’d pick up your book.’ But I write for everybody – librarians, teachers, bakers, stay-at-home moms, working moms, everyone.”

Click here to read my Q and A with Adriana, who calls Books & Books "the gold standard" of bookstores!



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