Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rococo by Adriana Trigiani

A Little Background: I have recently discovered the author, Adriana Trigiani. I have to admit that I had never heard of Ms. Trigiani until recently when I noticed Brava Valentine on the best seller list. That book seemed to be everywhere I looked, even when I wasn’t looking. I went to the library hoping to find it or any of her books and came away with Rococo. Here’s my review.

Book Description: Rococo by AdrianaTrigiani

Remember 1970? If you do, then grab the closest pair of palazzo pants you can find and let’s trip back in time.

A lovely bunch of coconuts reside in Our Lady of Fatina, New Jersey. There is no better way to describe the cast of characters in this book. For Bartolomeo di Crespi or “B” as he is known, there isn’t a home in his corner of the world that he has not decorated to the hilt and tastefully so. But all the accolades in the world will not quell the desire he has had since he was a little boy…and that is…to refurbish and bring a new sparkle to Our Lady of Fatima Church.

The Famiglia: Toot, B’s amusing older sister, divorced for 13 years and still looking to live, as Oprah would say, her authentic life; Christina, B’s widowed cousin who is trying to find a reason to smile again; Two, B’s nephew, feels a need to get his artistic mojo back and wants to quit college; and assorted other relatives near and dear.

The Outlaws: Aurelia Mandelbaum, the richest lady in the neighborhood and Our Lady of Fatima’s chief benefactor, and Father Porporino, the pastor with a big secret.

The Lost Soul: Capri, Aurelia’s myopic 40-year old daughter who has been betrothed to B since birth.

Rounding Out the Cast: Rufus McSherry, the hunky artist; Pedro Alarcon, a stained glass artisan; Edyie Von Gunne, uber-chic international designer.

You’re familiar with the old axion, be careful what you wish for? That is exactly the hot water that B steps into after finally being given the assignment of a lifetime. You can't please everyone and landmines pepper B’s path to success that include the church, the benefactor, the artisans, and even B himself. There’s no turning back now. Listen, miracles do happen.

The book also includes a few family favorite recipes. Here's...

Bartolomeo's Hot Chocolate
1/2 Cup cocoa
1 Tablespoon flour
1/2 Cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 Tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1-1/2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 Teaspoons coconut flavoring
4 Cups whole milk

Fresh Whipped Cream
1 Cup heavy cream
1/4 Cup confectioner's sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Cinnamon sticks

Mix the cocoa, flour, brown sugar, confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract, coconut flavoring, and milk in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until dry ingredients disolve. Using a whisk, blend well until it steams. In a bowl, whip the heavy cream, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff. Por the minture into 4 mugs, and top with a dollop of whipped creame. Use one cinnamon stick per mug as a stirrer.

My Take: O-M-G, the last time I was in Brooklyn visiting my Italian cousins was back in early 19 – well the date isn’t important! Never mind that the book takes place in New Jersey, there doesn’t seem to be any difference when it comes to family. This lively tome is all about the drama, love, faith, eccentricities, scandal, weddings, babies, ex-husbands, lovers, heck there’s even a Cinderalla story thrown in, that go along with being part of la Famiglia. I loved this book. It makes me want to head to the closest Festa Italiana and get myself a fresh cannoli. I swear on my godmother’s braciole and stuffed artichokes, I will be checking out the rest of Ms. Trigiani’s books.

Meet the Author:

Adriana Trigiani grew up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia and attended Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana. She was a writer for The Cosby Show and its spin-off series A Different World before beginning on novels.

In 2001, Trigiani published her first novel, Big Stone Gap. That was followed by three sequels along with other stand alone books including Rococo.

Trigiani is hard at work on a movie version of Big Stone Gap and Very Valentine has found a home at Lifetime Television.

You can visit with Adriana at her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

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