“Like Trigiani’s (Kiss Carlo, 2017) best work, Tony’s Wife is an immersive experience, with well- rounded, warm characters, pre-WWII fashion, Jersey accents, and homemade pasta. Moving and delightful.”  –Booklist Online

    “A heartfelt tale of love too stubborn to surrender to human frailties.” –Kirkus Review

    Tony’s Wife is a bit of a misnomer, as the strength of the book is Chi Chi’s story, but Trigiani is the master of writing complex Italian families, full of characters who love and live with passionate (and sometimes fractured) hearts … Trigiani delivers another solid historical saga, and her readers will be pleased.” –Library Journal

    “Trigiani…fills this novel with the musical delights of the big band era and a love that lasts a lifetime … Packed with melodies, memories, humor, and love and loss, this effortlessly plotted novel is an emotional page-turner.” –Publishers Weekly

    Tony’s Wife

    Set in the lush Big Band era of the 1940s and World War II, this spellbinding saga from beloved New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani tells the story of two talented working class kids who marry and become a successful singing act, until time, temptation, and the responsibilities of home and family derail their dreams.

    Shortly before World War II, Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada meet one summer on the Jersey shore and fall in love. Both are talented and ambitious, and both share the dream of becoming singers for the legendary orchestras of the time: Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman. They’re soon married, and it isn’t long before Chiara and Tony find that their careers are on the way up as they navigate the glamorous worlds of night clubs, radio, and television. All goes well until it becomes clear that they must make a choice: Which of them will put their ambitions aside to raise a family and which will pursue a career? And how will they cope with the impact that decision has on their lives and their marriage?

    From the Jersey shore to Las Vegas to Hollywood, and all the dance halls in between, this multi-layered story is vivid with historical color and steeped in the popular music that serves as its score. Tony’s Wife is a magnificent epic of life in a traditional Italian family undergoing seismic change in a fast paced, modern world. Filled with vivid, funny, and unforgettable characters, this richly human story showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a storyteller and her deep understanding of family, love, and the pursuit of the American dream.


    Serves 8

    Grandma Lucy’s Meat Filling for Stuffed Pasta

    4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
    2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
    2 cups ground beef, veal or chicken
    2 cups plain bread crumbs
    1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 
    2 eggs, beaten 
    2 egg yolks
    Salt and pepper to taste

    In a heavy pan, melt the butter and sauté the garlic and parsley until the garlic is a light brown. Add the meat and cook gently until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the meat cool. Then add all the other ingredients and mix well. The filling is now ready to add to the pasta form.

    For Manicotti

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease and 11×7-inch baking dish.
    Stuff each tube or shell with 1/4 cup of the mixture.
    Spread about 1/2 cup of basic tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange the tubes or shells in a single layer, then cover with another 1/2 cup (or so) of tomato sauce. Bake until heated through, about 25 minutes. Have grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a little extra sauce on the table. 

    Tony’s Wife  Discussion Questions

    1. 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?
    2. 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?
    3. The role of 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?
    4. What effect did the post World War II era have on Chi Chi and Tony’s marriage and careers? What changed after the war? How did they cope with those changes?
    5. 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 was Chi Chi a modern woman?
    6. 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?
    7. What is the role of the Italian American family in the novel? How important was tradition to the Donatelli family? To the Arma family?
    8. 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?
    9. Tony was a famous singer, but he was not, as his father said, “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?
    10. Tony remarries three times after divorcing Chi Chi.  She never remarries. Why do you think she didn’t start over with Jim LaMarca?
    11. 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?
    12. What role did the children play in their parents’ marriage?  Divorce?
    13. If they were to make a movie or musical of Tony’s Wife with any singer/actors from the past, who would choose? Which contemporary singer/actors would you cast? Was there anyone in your life that reminded you of Tony and Chi Chi, even if they couldn’t carry a tune?