My last answer to the discussion encompasses the majority of my feelings toward this story. So naturally, Tony's Wife by Adriana Trigiani sits rather bittersweet in my heart. I thoroughly enjoyed the format of this story. This year I have read two other pre/post-WW I/II books (The Dream Merchants by Harold Robbins and The Covenant of Water by Dr. Abraham Verghese) and Tony's Wife was a refreshing story of the music industry during the crooner craze.
As I said on my Instagram (@fromablackgirlliteracy), "... this book is an old soul's dream read. As a Michigan-raised girl and GM engineer's granddaughter, I really enjoyed the representation of Detroit. Since before I can remember I've been a lover of crooner music. Leaving the story the way it did allows for a lovely interpretation for the reader. I'm definitely a new fan of Ms. Trigiani." As my 10th read of the year, this book has opened my creativity for a new book. Check out my Instagram post for the prospective 2025 romance novel. The following will be the discussion questions given in the back of the book (quick side note: I adoreee when authors do this).
Q1. Chi Chi made certain life choices when she decided to get together with Tony. Is it ever possible to commit to another without sacrificing your own dreams? What did Tony give up for Chi Chi? What did she give up for Tony?
A1. It is possible to commit to another without sacrificing your own dreams. I believe this all depends on the person you are committing to. While each person might have to deter from their desires when combining their lives; there should not be a person halting their hopes and dreams altogether. For Chi Chi, Tony gave up a life of regrets and a life without a family. The regrets Tony would have had if he hadn't gone after Chi Chi (the one that got away attitude). I believe Tony needed to have conquered all the women that he desired in his life. Chi Chi gave up the life she had planned and a better career.
Q2. Chi Chi had a close relationship with her father. How important is a strong male role model for a young girl? Do you think Mariano's influence had a lasting effect on the choices his daughter made?
A2. A positive strong male role model for a young girl (in my opinion - any girl) is one of the top 3 important relationships... ever. I do think Mariano's influence had a lasting effect on the choices his daughter made because, through any of the mistreatment Chi Chi endured, she decided to make Tony a great father and man in the eyes of her children because she knows how important and vital that relationship between herself and Mariano played in her life.
Q3. The role of the mothers, specifically Rosaria and Isotta, was a prominent ribbon in the narrative of the book. How much influence did Chi Chi's mother ultimately have on her life? How much influence did Rosaria have on her son, Saverio? How did you view the marriages of their parents: Were they a good or bad example for Tony and Chi Chi?
A3. Chi Chi's mother ultimately guided her to stay in the marriage with Tony as long as she did. Rosaria's influence on Saverio was shown through the attitude that even though he can't/won't change - since Chi Chi and him got married - she had to stay, as Rosaria did with Saverio's father. I believe they were not good examples for Tony and Chi Chi.
Q4. What effect did the post - WWII era have on Chi Chi and Tony's marriage and careers? What changed after the war? How did they cope with those changes?
A4. The only effect the post-WWII era had on Chi Chi and Tony's marriage was that there needed to be unification between them since they had been a part of the majority of their engagement. In their careers, I believe there was a need for everything post WWII to be a complete 180 in the entertainment wise which explains the change to the film industry.
Q5. In some ways, Chi Chi was a traditional woman of her time, much like her mother, eventually choosing family over her career. In what other ways were Chi Chi a modern woman?
A5. Chi Chi was a modern woman because she took a copyright to all her songs and got a property under her control to make continual money.
Q6. Chi Chi went to work in Lee Bowman's management office when her marriage ended. Why do you think she chose a practical job over a return to songwriting?
A6. Because of the unpredictability of her marriage with Tony, I believe Chi Chi craved a reliable job under someone she knew she could trust.
Q7. What is the role of the Italian American family in the novel? How important was tradition to the Donatelli family? To the Arma family?
The role of the Italian American family in the novel carries entertainment, service, and culture to the United States of America. Tradition to the Donatelli family was indisputably important. The Arma traditions could be replaced.
Q8. Saverio Armandonada was forced to change his name to Tony Arma in a pivotal moment in the story. What effect did this have on his sense of self?
A8. Saverio's sense of self was completely erased and destroyed when he changed his name.
Q9. Tony was a famous singer, but he was not, as his father had noticed, as big as Sinatra. How much did Tony's relationship with his father affect the choices Tony made in his personal life? In his professional life?
A9. I would say Tony's relationship with his father affected every choice since he was told to leave. Changing his name allowed him to "advance" and rid himself of the original name of the man that disowned him. The relationship affected Tony in his personal life because his father gave him permission to stay the man he was after marrying a woman he trusted eventually hurting her and damaging their marriage and family.
Q10. Tony remarried three times after divorcing Chi Chi. She never remarried. Why do you think she didn't start over with Jam LaMarca?
A10. I believe Chi Chi partially didn't start over with Jim LaMarca because she was still waiting for Tony to grow up and take her seriously but more importantly since Chi Chi didn't want to get married in the first place and it ended so badly - Chi Chi probably cut that part out of her life.
Q11. When two people fall in love, is destiny determined by the strength of the commitment or is the success or failure of the relationship up to the whims of fate? Is our happiness measured by the loyalty and fidelity of our partner? Under what circumstances should a woman end a marriage? Should Chi Chi have ended the marriage when her talent took a back seat to Tony's Why was his singing career more important than her songwriting and performing career? Is infidelity a worse transgression than a partner who renders the other's talents less important than his or her own?
A11. When two people fall in love, destiny/the success or failure of the relationship is created by the strength of the commitment. Our happiness is measured by the loyalty and fidelity of our partner. Under the circumstances of adultery, a woman should end a marriage. No, Chi Chi should not have ended the marriage when her talent took a back seat to Tony's - Chi Chi (if possible) should have talked to Tony about tag-teaming and allowing her to work and he stay home with the children. His singing career seemed more important than her songwriting and performing career because he was th mean in the relationship. Infidelity is a worse transgression than a partner who renders the other's talents less important than his or her own.
Q12. What role did the children play in their parent's marriage? Divorce?
A12. The children played a bandaid trying to patch a bleeding relationship together (especially little Leone) in their parents' marriage. In their divorce the children played the role of stitches attempting to keep two people together that would have never spoken to each other would they had not had children.
Q13. If they were to make a movie or musical of Tony's Wife with any singer/actors from the past, whom would you choose? Which contemporary singer/actors would you cast? Was there anyone in your life who reminded you of Tony and Chi Chi, even if they can't carry a tune?
A13. For the past choices, I would choose Frank Sinatra (funny enough) as Tony and Gina Lollobrgida as Chi Chi. For the contemporary picks: Lorenzo Zurzolo and Jennifer Missoni or Benedetta Porcaroli as Chi Chi. Tony and Chi Chi ultimately reminded me of my parents (and even their parents of Leone and Rosaria) funny enough because my dad can not sing at all. A lot of the story mirrored my parents' story. Especially how much my mother's life changed after she married my father. Of course, my mother would never continue her life as Chi Chi did. My mother will remarry and will take risks in her career and her desires.