Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Published November 2018 by Harper Collins Publishers
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher, through TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review
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 and 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.
Ever since I joined Goodreads, and particularly since I started blogging almost ten years ago, I've been hearing people rave about Adriana Trigiani's books. I mean, the lady's name is in bigger print than the title of the books - you know you're a big deal with they do that for you. And for all of these years I've been meaning to read her books. Then a couple of years ago, I finally listened to one of her books and I didn't love it. But Trish, at TLC Book Tours, saw that there was a lot about it that impressed me and thought I might like to give Trigiani another chance. I am so glad she did!
Everything that impressed me in The Shoemaker's Wife was in Tony's Wife as well. I could easily imagine what it was like, in 1932 to work for Henry Ford on the assembly line. I could feel heat of the sun and the sand under my feet on the Jersey shore for 1938. I could vividly picture what the characters were wearing, the scenes in the clubs and life on the road. Trigiani helps readers understand what it means to work to make your dreams come true and the price you have to pay when they do. This time, though, I really felt the emotions Trigiani is trying to convey; and this time, it's because she makes me feel them, not because she' s just telling me this is how the characters are feeling.
In the publisher's summary it says "it didn't long before Saverio becomes Tony Arm and he and Chi Chi form a duo..." but that's not entirely true. We're almost half way through the book before that happens. You might think that would feel like too much build up, but you'd be wrong. It's necessary in order for readers to really get to know these two characters, the factory backgrounds they've come from, the families they were raised in, how they came to show business, and why they do the things they do. It's key to feel these are two people you know in order to understand them both once the going starts to get tough.
I can't help but feel, too, that this was the right book at the right time for me. I needed something that wasn't too dark, wasn't nonfiction, wasn't just depressing. But I also always like something that grabs me up and takes me along for a ride. Trigiani did that. The next time I'm looking for a book to help pull me out of a slump, or to break up a string of tough reads, I think I'm going to be looking for another of her books.
For other opinions of this book, check out for full tour. To purchase the book, check out these links: HarperCollins, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Thanks to the ladies at TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour.
Find out more about Adriana at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.