An Adriana Trigiani book is always something to celebrate, and her latest release, All The Stars in the Heavens is no exception. Set during the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930's, Trigiani weaves the story of her protagonist, Alda Ducci, a young Italian immigrant who is asked to leave the convent where she had planned to become a nun, with movie star Loretta Young, whom Alda ends up working with as her assistant.
Alda accompanies Loretta to Seattle for a movie shoot, where the male star is Clark Gable. Gable pursues Loretta and an onscreen romance becomes an offscreen one as well, one with far-reaching consequences.
I loved this book, it felt like watching a behind-the-scenes story on Turner Classic Movies. Trigiani takes a old Hollywood tale about Gable and Young and creates a believable and fascinating story that should be turned into a movie itself.
As always, Trigiani has a few scenes that revolve around food. In her Valentine trilogy, her family dinners left me laughing and drooling over the Italian Roncolli family holiday celebrations. In All The Stars in the Heavens, we have foodie scenes like this one, as Loretta Young opens a box sent to her for her birthday from her family while she filming far away outside of Seattle.
The box was filled with glorious food: cellophane packages of noodles, German cured sausages, wedges of hard cheese, a bottle of olive oil, and a jar of Greek olives. Ruby had mixed dry biscuit ingredients in a mason jar with instructions to add eggs and bake. Another jar held the dry ingredients for chocolate cake. There was a box of See's Candy, Loretta's secret vice. A large square baker's box was nestled in the center; she lifted it out carefully and opened it. As soon as she did, the room was filled with the scent of lemon, rum and butter. Her mother had made her favorite cake for her birthday, wrapped in layers of tin foil: a southern rum cake, an old recipe handed down from her great-grandmother in North Carolina.Who wouldn't like to get that as a birthday gift? Another great foodie scene is set in an outdoor market in Padua in Italy.
The outdoor market in Padua's grand piazza was a carnival of delicious scents and local delicacies, the harvest of the Italian countryside gathered under the sunny yellow awnings by local vendors. Baskets filled with sunflowers tied in massive bouquets were sold next to silver bins of fresh white mozzarella in icy clear water. A white canopy threw shade over a display of freshly caught silver fish with blue eyes, the catch that brought the most haggling from customers, while salami hung from the overhead beam of the portico like stalactites, marked with their prices. There were braids of fresh bread, bright green bouquets of chicory, basil, and parsley, and a slab of torrone taffy that looked like a giant square of Italian marble. The purveyor cut off pieces and wrapped them in paper as the children of Padua stood in line. The vegetables were works of art: white mushrooms on nests of green, baskets of tomatoes, white onions that looked like pearls, and fruit, blood oranges and pale green pears, sweet and fragrant. Craving sweets, Loretta bought a bag of blood oranges, and as she walked, she peeled and orange and ate it.After reading that, I wanted to head over to Union Square Greenmarket, just to take in the sights and smells. Trigiani touches all of the readers' senses like no other author I know. Her books are a feast for every sense.
I will post a complete review of All The Stars in the Heavens on November 9th as part of TLC Tours, but you can probably tell already that I am going to give it a rave review.
Visit Adriana Trigiani's website for more information on the book here.