Tony’s Wife – Review

I received a free review copy from the publisher (Harper Books) in exchange for an honest review.

“Duty-bound love is the Italian girl’s area of expertise. The Italian woman is a master craftsman at the art of sacrifice. But love, romantic, wild, impetuous, unguarded, and free? Chi Chi had never experienced it. Love had always been about him: making his life better, shoring up his confidence, pushing him out into the world to succeed.”

With the book spanning almost 70 years in the lives of Saverio and Chi Chi, learning about their Italian heritage and their shared dream of success in music sounds like the perfect formula for an outstanding story.

The book falls somewhere in the middle for me, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. I was thrown a bit by the brief narrative of Saverio (stage name Tony Arma), his complicated (if you want to call it that) relationship with his father, but assumed we would come back to him from time to time. When he leaves his father’s home at 16, the rift between them grows and pushes them further apart.

Saverio finds success in music, meets Chi Chi one summer, and eventually they work together traveling and making music for the band. Chi Chi is an ambitious business woman and I admired her work ethic. Unlike other women who sing with the band, Chi Chi remains focused on her work and doesn’t seem to be interested in settling down, getting married, having a family. She’s a brilliant songwriter and views Tony as a friend, since both of them are Italian. She speaks to him with candor and honesty about the way he treats women. Later on, Tony enlist in the Navy and while he is away fighting in the war, apart from Chi Chi he realizes he’s in love with her.

From the synopsis on the back of the book, you know Chi Chi and Tony will get married. But that doesn’t occur to well past the halfway point of the book.

Then again, the story is about his wife, Chi Chi. She has been reluctant to give up her career and what she enjoys but convinced herself that with her and Tony things would be differ. She’s sacrificed much to be a wife, mother, and support to her family, while Tony seems oblivious to what it really means to love someone and be a real family.

“She gave you who she was, her creative self, her highest dreams, her deepest desires, and purpose in order to love him.”

Overall I didn’t love this book, I didn’t hate it either. I just felt like the pace at the beginning was too slow for how things wrapped up in the end. I’m not sure if I will read anything else by the author. I remember feeling like this when I read The Shoemaker’s Wife a few years ago. I also just moved a book off my shelf to the donate pile because it seems like I have the same overall feeling and impression with the authors books to date.

Have you read any books from this author? How do you feel about reviewing books that you didn’t care for?

I hesitated to post this review since I have a few others I’m trying to finish up but thought it might be worth discussing the last question, writing about books you don’t care for, easy, hard or somewhere in between?

8 thoughts on “Tony’s Wife – Review

  1. Grab the Lapels says:

    I think I mentioned that I’ve met this author, as she gave a talk at the local women’s-college where she went when she was a young person. While I loved her big, bold personality, when I started reading Queen of the Big I felt like I was back in elementary school reading a chapter book. Not only the plot, but the sentence structure and use of exclamation marks felt childish to me. I didn’t finish Queen of the Big Time nor have I picked up her other works. I know people love her Big Stone Gap books, but I have plenty of other works to read!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jennifertarheelreader says:

    That cover is a beauty, Shell! Weirdly enough, I have not read any books by this author, but I know I own a few (probably because of the covers!). I loved your review, and I think we should always write about what we want to write about. Even if the book wasn’t a good fit for you, you were well-balanced and thoughtful. I don’t tend to review books I didn’t care for personally for a few reasons, mostly because of time and I find it hard to be as balanced as I could be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • booksbythecup says:

      The saying is don’t judge a book by its cover. The cover is striking and it was a nice match with my tumbler of tea at lunch when I finished it last week.

      Thanks for the feedback, I sometimes hope talking about a book even if I didn’t adore it will start a conversation about the book, the author or something that can lead to some good conversation. I remember one book I didn’t particularly care for a few years ago turned into a fun read because we recreated the story in our discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Callum McLaughlin says:

    I think it’s definitely worth sharing reviews for books you didn’t click with, especially when you can clarify why it didn’t work for you, as you did here 😊 Especially since books are so subjective, a mixed or even poor review can still help guide readers towards them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • booksbythecup says:

      I agree. When someone can tell me why a book didn’t work for them it can help me better decide if it’s one I want to read or not. I read a quote once that was incredibly true, and I’ll paraphrase –it said something like “reading good books ruins you for bad ones.” I could add it makes for interesting discussion when a book falls somewhere in the middle

      Liked by 1 person

      • Callum McLaughlin says:

        Yes, absolutely! I often find that 3 star reviews are the most interesting to read (and to write!), as the reader has been able to identify both strengths and weaknesses, which makes for a more balanced, thorough discussion.

        Like

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