Lucia, Lucia

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Today's book was suggested by Vicki. Thanks for the suggestion Vicki.

Today was a challenging blogging day. I had the book to read, a blog entry to write, a family birthday party to go to, and work to do. I'm very tired as I write this, so please excuse me dear readers if this blog entry isn't incredibly coherent (I tend to ramble incoherently when I'm tired). All in all, I think today went pretty well - although trying to read a book in the middle of a party was a bit more challenging than I had expected, especially since my family is not known for having quiet parties.

Today's party was the first big family event I've been to since I started writing the blog, and so the blog was a hot topic of conversation - mostly because I obnoxiously brought it up every five minutes. I've become like a used car salesman with this blog - especially now that my sister has printed up business cards and told me I must "think in terms of promotion more." My family indulged me in this, and we have some very interesting conversations about books - followed by me challenging them to a light hearted contest in which they would compete to see who get the most people to show up and read the page. They have indulged me in this too - probably because they've known me my whole life and have come to understand my inappropriate sense of humor. Most people are not this accommodating, which leads to me having to actually attempt to be a normal person when I'm around those I'm not related to. Ah, the comfort of being in the presence of relatives and being able to act as inappropriate as I want to, there's just nothing quite like it.

When my parents found out about Sister Sunday, my mother responded with, "Hey what about Mother Monday," followed quickly by my dad saying, "And when is Father Friday." Apparently the feeling has spread to the entire family, because they collectively decided during dinner that I should set aside one day each week to read a book that a family member has suggested. I really like that idea, so I think Sundays from now on will be Suggestion Sunday - but I'm not starting that until the 15th because I've already picked a book that I want to read tomorrow on my sister's actual birthday. So, during dinner I took book suggestions - and I even got a suggestion from my brother who, by his own admission, has only ever read one book start to finish.

Here's the description for today's book: "In 1950 Greenwich Village, 25-year-old Lucia has it all: a warm and loving Italian family, a papa with a successful grocery business, an engagement ring from her childhood sweetheart, and best of all, a career she loves as a seamstress and apprentice to a talented dress designer at B. Altman's department store. When Lucia meets a rich, handsome businessman whose ambitions for a luxurious uptown lifestyle match her own, her goals for her future soar even higher. Over the next two years, however, her dreams gradually unravel. Sorvino is well-cast as the narrator of Trigiani's (Milk Glass Moon) first-person tale. She ably conveys the confidence, eagerness, and romantic yearnings of youth, as well as the guilt Lucia suffers when she disappoints her loved ones. Sorvino is also adept at providing voices for a large cast of characters: the rich Italian accent of Lucia's father, the scolding tone of her mother, the shy voice of her sister-in-law and the smooth, movie-star tones of the rich stranger Lucia pins her hopes on. This is an engaging, well-told tale about life's unexpected twists and turns, the ways that even small choices have large repercussions and the hopeful notion that sometimes, when you least expect it, you can find happiness."

Today's book provided me with the opportunity to expand the list of conversation topics my Grandmother and I peruse beyond the usual, "How much did bread cost when you were a child." - The main character of the book went to Secretarial school in the 1940's, and I remembered hearing a story about my Grandmother going to Secretarial school as well. We had an interesting talk, and I learned things I never knew about her, first that she has originally wanted to go to art school in Indianapolis but her parents wouldn't let her, two that she worked as a secretary for the railroad, and three that she never wore hats that much in the 40's. The last detail makes me a bit sad because I like to think of the 40's as a time when everyone wore hats and gloves. Everything just sounds more elegant when I picture people wearing really dramatic hats at the time. The part about not getting to go to art school makes me sad too - but my Grandmother (who I've never seen in a bad mood, ever) cheerfully pointed out that even though she didn't get to go to art school she really liked being a secretary too.

I know that I'm romanticizing the past a lot here, but I think being a secretary in the 40's sounds so much more interesting than being a secretary now - but then I think being anything (a writer, a teacher, a gas station attendant) sounds more interesting back then than it does now. It's definitely the hats and gloves - no matter how many times someone tells me they didn't wear hats and gloves that much then, except for in church, I still picture them wearing hats all the time - and suddenly that makes everything, even the most mundane stuff, sound elegant. Which leads me to the character in the book (sorry dear readers, but I did warn you ahead of time that I ramble when I'm tired), who works in a department store. Books about other time periods, and old movies, make working in department store look/sound like loads of fun. In order to stop romanticizing things I have to keep saying over and over again to myself, "Hitler. Polio. Rationing. No reality television shows. Things weren't that great." But, to no avail, I have watched too many old movies and too many episodes of Homefront (a great show that was on in the early 90's, about life in America after World War 2, that was swiftly cancelled because people don't appreciate quality) .

Speaking of Homefront, there's a part in this book that reminds me so much of my favorite part of that show. In the book Lucia, and several of her coworkers are in the housewares department of the store they work at and they're talking about some crystal stemware that they like. Lucia asked her friends if they think crystal stemware makes the wine taste better and then answers her own question with, "At eight dollars a glass, it should." I'm so amused by hearing people talk about 8 dollars a glass like that's a small fortune. On Homefront, one of the characters always says, "I'll never be a 10,000 dollar a year man." I'm endlessly amused by that, which isn't saying much because I'm also endlessly amused when the soap in hotel bathrooms is in the shape of a flower. I'm simple that way.

Sorry again, dear readers, for today's rambling post. I always do this when I'm tired. I think the worst example of my rambling while tired was when I was in high school and there was a snow day and I got a phone call 7:00 in the morning when I was in the middle of sleeping. I stumbled downstairs, picked up the phone, and proceeded to tell the woman on the other line my entire life store. When I hung up the phone my mother asked, "Who were you telling all of that to," to which I replied, "Some woman whose trying to recruit people for the army." I promise, tomorrow I'm going to write my blog entry while I'm fully awake, and well rested.

P.S. - Suggestion Saturday is not going to happen next week because I have a special book picked out for Valentine's Day - but Suggestion Saturday is going to continue like normal the following Saturday, so keep sending those book suggestions dear readers.