Thursday, October 20, 2011

Don’t Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from my Grandmothers by Adriana Trigiani

Don’t Sing at the Table is a true gem of a book. It is a small volume, but contains a story of a great love between a girl and her grandmothers. Adriana Trigiani is the author of The Big Stone Gap series and Lucia, Lucia. I enjoyed all of those novels, but alas read them before I had a blog so I have no reviews of them online. In Don’t Sing at the Table, Trigiani takes her first foray into the non-fiction realm to write about her two extraordinary grandmothers, Yolanda “Viola” Perin Trigiani and Lucia “Lucy” Spada Bonicelli.

Trigiani gives the backstory of each woman from their youth through their careers and marriages. Both woman had successful careers outside the home, in a time when this was not the norm. Together with her husband, Viola ran a prosperous mill that produced blouses in Pennsylvania. Lucy became a young widow at 35, but was able to raise her three children alone while running a shoe and seamstress shop in Chisholm, Minnesota. Although both women had very different lives, they both had great values and advice that they passed onto their children and grandchildren.

Trigiani writes about the advice she received from her grandmothers about life and love throughout her lifetime while giving the back story of each lady. The advice is great advice and the stories are very entertaining. Pictures of Viola and Lucy are sprinkled throughout, and some of the recipes for the tasty dishes described in the book are located at the end.

One got a sense while reading this book of the great love that Trigiani had for her grandmothers and it touched me deeply. I was lucky in my life to know three of my great-grandmothers, and both of my grandmas. I still have one grandma left and am lucky to have her. I still miss the others that have passed away, especially my Great-Grandma Kile, who I was very, close too. I always loved listening to the stories these special ladies had to share and I’ve often thought of how these stories would make a very interesting book. Trigiani has written a book that I’ve always dreamed of writing!

I bookmarked A LOT of quotes in this book that I enjoyed and that I think give a great sense of the great wit and love this book has to offer. Here is a sampling of my favorite quotes:

Trigiani talking about her Grandma Lucy: “No one in the course of my entire life was ever as happy to see me as she was. Looking back, now, I realize that you only ever need one person who lights up that way when you enter a room. One person is all it takes to give a kid confidence.” I felt the same way about Grandma Kile.

“It isn’t square footage that creates opulence; it’s peace, calm, and the comforting knowledge that we can live well within our means that gives us security. “ Ben and I live by this mantra, although our family seems to want us to live in a palace!

“Nobody likes a pretty dope,” Viola once said.

“She knew, living in a small town, that everything she did would become fodder for conversation and affect her children. She never wanted to be the subject of any conversation that she wouldn’t have wanted her children to hear.”

“In the best marriages, both parties are in the aspiration business, and when you climb, you climb together, and higher.”

“Lucy died in 1992, Viola in 1997, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t turn to them in memory.” I feel the same way.

Overall, Don’t Sing at the Table is a moving tribute to the love and wisdom of Trigiani’s amazing grandmothers and grandmothers everywhere. It is also a great American story as the story of these women, was the story of our country in the twentieth century. It is a book I greatly enjoyed reading and will enjoy reading again in the future.

I read Don’t Sing at the Table as part of the TLC Book Tours. The rest of the schedule for this tour is located here.

Book Source: HarperCollins Publishers. Thank-you!


  1. I loved Lucia, Lucia and I really want to read this book after reading you review!

  2. Your review gave me goosebumps! I love advice my grandma has given me, and I treasure all the time I have with her! What a great tribute Adriana has done to put their stories down in writing so the stories will never die.

    Thanks for being on the tour, Laura!

  3. This sounds like a very positive and heartwarming book. Lovely review, Laura! It sounds like you relished it.