Rococo by Adriana Trigiani

“A veritable crazy quilt of quirky Italian Americans … Trigiani weaves all these subplots together with wonderful ease; every seam is perfectly straight, every pleat in place. Bartolomeo would expect no less. A-.” –Entertainment Weekly

“Clever … Creating characters so lively they bounce off the page and possessing a wit so subtle that even the best jokes seem effortless, Trigiani is a master storyteller. Equal parts sass and silliness, Rococo is an artfully designed tale with enough brio to make Frank Gehry proud.” –People

“[Rococo] is as much fun as [Trigiani’s] previous novels. … There are hilarious encounters here and abroad, with so many colorful citizens darting in and out of the pages that it is impossible to name favorites.”  –Roanoke Times

Adriana Trigiani with Mario Cantone

Perin Family Buttermilk Cake

Serves 12

4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small bits and softened (but still chilled)
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Place the floor, butter and salt in a large bowl.

In a second bowl, mix the sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Add this mixture to the flour mixture. Combine, then measure out 1 cup and set aside.

Beat the eggs, vanilla and buttermilk into the mixture.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured 9×12-inch cake pan. Sprinkle the reserved cup of flour-sugar mixture over the top of the batter. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, watching for the cake to turn a golden color.

Rococo by Adriana Trigiani, Buttermilk cake Recipe

Rococo  Discussion Questions

  1. The author, Adriana Trigiani, begins Rococo with a discussion of Bartolomeo’s house and its décor. Through this introduction, what do you immediately learn about the book’s protagonist? What aspects of B’s home best represent his personality and character?
  2. B identifies strongly with his home and the way it is decorated. Do you feel that the surroundings of your home give similar clues to your personality? How?
  3. What details in Rococo evoke the setting of 1970s New Jersey? What do you think the novel would have been like had it been set in another time period or locale?
  4. What about B is so alluring to the women around him? How is he alternately transfixed by and indifferent to the women in his life? In particular, how do Capri and Eydie have an impact in the way that B views and relates to the opposite sex?
  5. Why do you think that Bartolomeo uses a nickname in lieu of his given name? How does the moniker “B” give a different impression from “Bartolomeo”?
  6. How would this book have been different had it been told from someone else’s point of view-for instance, that of Eydie, Rufus, or Toot? In another vein, what effect would shifting the point of view to an impartial, third-person point of view have?
  7. How are B and Toot similar? In which ways do they challenge each other? Do they enable each other in any way? Is any aspect of their relationship reminiscent of one you’ve had with a sibling?
  8. “My temperament is better suited to making art than saving souls,” says B (page 39). How does this statement give you a glimpse into B’s personality? Describe his struggle with the Roman Catholic Church.
  9. How does spirituality play a part in B’s everyday life? How does not being selected as the designer for the church renovation thrust him into a spiritual crisis? What about Father Porp frustrates him? How do the two ultimately become allies?
  10. How does Christina deal with grief and loss? How does she blossom within the novel? What do you think her daughter will grow up to be like, based on your glimpse of her in the book?
  11. What similarities does B share with his namesake, Two? Were you surprised when Two disclosed his homosexuality? What is B’s attitude toward sexuality?
  12. How is Eydie Von Gunne a larger-than-life personality? What does she represent to B? How are the two of them kindred spirits?
  13. Why are Pedro and Capri an unlikely couple? What about each might attract the other? Why do you think Aurelia is so disapproving of the match, and what ultimately compels her to accept the marriage?
  14. How does B’s family disrupt his life? How are they a loving and supportive presence? In which ways is B a loner, and how is he fully integrated into the family fold?
  15. Why do you think Eydie rebuffs B’s advances? Do you think that he loves her? What prompts his declaration about becoming a lifelong bachelor? Do you think he’ll ever change his mind?
  16. Why do you think B has “decorator’s block” when faced with revamping the church? What are his weaknesses as a designer? How does collaborating with Rufus allow B to be more creative and less of a “people pleaser”?
  17. In which ways is B’s discovery of the statue of Little Mary a miracle? Why does B donate the ensuing windfall to the church renovation? If you were in a similar situation, what do you think you might have done?
  18. What does the inclusion of recipes add to the novel? Are there any that you have tried or plan to try? Do you have any signature dishes, like those of B and his family and friends, that you would include in a book?
  19. Would you like to see a sequel to Rococo, following either B or another character? If not B, who?