Picks and Pans Review: Very Valentine

updated 02/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Adriana Trigiani |

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REVIEWED BY JOANNA POWELL

NOVEL
Sex and the City meets Moonstruck in this glossy novel about Valentine Roncalli, the witty, unmarried sister in an expansive family of transplanted Tuscans living in Manhattan. Very Italian would have been an equally fitting title, given the risotto dinners, big fat weddings and fashionable characters convened here. Valentine, a 33-year-old former English teacher trying to reinvent herself, has an engaging barefaced girliness: She adores the mirrors at a Great Neck catering hall for making her look "slimsational," calls the frown lines above her nose "the elevens," and while at a trendy party with her gay pal Gabriel, she squeezes a "makeup trifecta" into a tiny evening bag. We root for Val as she sets out to rescue her Gram's faltering artisan shoe business and swoon with her when she falls for a hot chef named Roman (think Rocco DiSpirito). Culminating in a dreamy trip to Arezzo and Capri, this first in a new trilogy from Trigiani (author of the bestselling Big Stone Gap series) is sly, sensual and dripping in style. And Valentine—like her prototype, the irrepressible Carrie Bradshaw—feels like a charming good friend.

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