TONY’S WIFE by Adriana Trigiani

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From the publisher:

Love, ambition, and the consequences of both lie at the heart of this spellbinding epic of two working-class kids who become a successful singing act during the big band era of the 1940s.

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 & 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.

Tony’s Wife is a richly layered novel that explores how a traditional Italian-American family grapples with the seismic shifts they face in a rapidly changing world. Replete with a pageant of vivid, complex characters, this deeply human saga of love and sacrifice showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a captivating storyteller and reveals her understanding that there are many different kinds of families: that over time love can evolve in ways that nobody can predict, especially when the hearts involved are open to forgiveness, the sweet reprise of redemption.


An Adriana Trigiani book is always cause for celebration at my house. It gets passed around long before publication date as no one wants to wait to read it. Reading Trigiani is an immersive experience into Italian family life and food and love.

Trigiani brings these characters and this time period to life, from the home decor to the cars and especially the attitudes. These characters learn and grow as times change, especially Chi Chi. In a way, this book reminded me a bit of the Broadway show Jersey Boys, so if you are not familiar with the author but you like the show (or movie), you will like this book.

Tony’s Wife is a deep dive into the 1940’s music scene and a marriage. This is a compelling and heartwarming read, sure to please Trigiani’s legion of fans.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TONY’S WIFE by Adriana Trigiani. Harper (November 20, 2018). ISBN 978-0062319258. 496p..

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One Response to TONY’S WIFE by Adriana Trigiani

  1. Modupi_M says:

    This is totally a must read…i will try to look for it here in South Africa

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