Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
I love Adriana Trigiani's books. When I finish a book, I am always ready to book my flight for a summer in Italy. (It would take me that long to see everything I wanted to see!)
Besides writing about Italy and the Italian culture of wine, pasta, shoes, and clothes, Trigiani always writes about women who are vulnerable and yet strong. They don't need a man who doesn't need them. Frequently, she ends a book with the heroine leaving the relationship to concentrate on what she loves and what makes her happy. There is a happily ever after, but it isn't necessarily of the "couple" variety. Smart lady.
Very Valentine was about a family business in New York City where they had made bridal shoes for the past 70 years or so. Valentine is figuring out how to move the business into financial solvency and maintain the high standards established by her grandfather. There is love, crazy family, wine, NYC skylines, and a month-long trip to Italy. Yes, I pretty much fell in love.
Adriana Trigiani will not be remembered as a classic author, but when I read for pleasure--there is no one I would rather read. She loves a lot of the things I love and admire. When I close her books, I always feel inspired to pursue the things I love. After all, those are the only things that matter in the end! Obviously, Trigiani knows this.