The Good Left Undone: A Novel
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"[An] immersive saga. . . . A celebration of family and a paean to the power of storytelling.”—People, "Book of the Week"
"Trigiani conveys the beauty of Italy, the hardships of war, the taste of family recipes, and the enduring love of family."—Library Journal (starred)
“The beauty of any book by Adriana Trigiani is her ability to interweave life and fiction. . . . Don’t miss your chance to take this unforgettable journey with the Cabrelli women!” —Lisa Wingate, Book of the Month
From “a master of visual and palpable detail” (The Washington Post), comes a lush, immersive novel about three generations of Tuscan artisans with one remarkable secret. Epic in scope and resplendent with the glorious themes of identity and belonging, The Good Left Undone unfolds in breathtaking turns.
Matelda, the Cabrelli family’s matriarch, has always been brusque and opinionated. Now, as she faces the end of her life, she is determined to share a long-held secret with her family about her own mother’s great love story: with her childhood friend, Silvio, and with dashing Scottish sea captain John Lawrie McVicars, the father Matelda never knew. . . .
In the halcyon past, Domenica Cabrelli thrives in the coastal town of Viareggio until her beloved home becomes unsafe when Italy teeters on the brink of World War II. Her journey takes her from the rocky shores of Marseille to the mystical beauty of Scotland to the dangers of wartime Liverpool—where Italian Scots are imprisoned without cause—as Domenica experiences love, loss, and grief while she longs for home. A hundred years later, her daughter, Matelda, and her granddaughter, Anina, face the same big questions about life and their family’s legacy, while Matelda contemplates what is worth fighting for. But Matelda is running out of time, and the two timelines intersect and weave together in unexpected and heartbreaking ways that lead the family to shocking revelations and, ultimately, redemption.
Praise for The Good Left Undone: A Novel
Praise for The Good Left Undone
“The Good Left Undone is deliciously told, with fully explored characters, mouthwatering descriptions of Italian food, and charming yet quirky towns. What’s exceptional about the novel is how seamlessly she knits together different stories from many places and times, bringing it all together in one poignant and satisfying book. This is a gorgeously written story about intergenerational love and heartbreak, the futility of regret and the power of a life well lived. It’s also a love letter to Italy and its beautiful and painful history.”
“The beauty of any book by Adriana Trigiani is her ability to interweave life and fiction. This book is immersive, but it will also have you pausing to consider your own ancestors… or to seek them out. It’s a testimony to the power of family and history, to the value of understanding where we came from. This epic tale is at once real and hopeful, filled with adventure, and yes… stories. Don’t miss your chance to take this unforgettable journey with the Cabrelli women!”
—Lisa Wingate, Book of the Month
"The Good Left Undone is a poignant expose on the value of the unsung heroes in a multigenerational, working-class family, and through the power of story, author Adriana Trigiani reminds us that our own family stories are important."
—The New York Journal of Books
"This exploration of family history is sensational and leaves the reader wanting to dive into their own familial past. Trigiani works her magic in delivering a drama that enthralls with touches of romance, humor, and humanity. There's a reason this Virginia author is so beloved by her readers and her peers."
—Virginia Living, "Favorite Books 2022"
“Based on a true story, this dual-timeline saga spans 100 years while chronicling four generations of strong, fierce Italian women and their loves, losses, secrets and heartaches."
—She Reads, "Best Book Club Picks of 2022"
"[A] captivating historical novel."
"An enthralling story."
“[A] captivating page-turner.”
“Adriana Trigiani never fails to sweep you away with her richly transportive prose. The Good Left Undone takes you through time and across the globe from the Italian coast to the Scottish Highlands as long-held secrets of the Cabrelli family come to light. An emotional and beautiful tale of family, love, and loss.”
—Taylor Jenkins Reid
“The Good Left Undone is a sprawling, majestic historical fiction feast that spans countries and generations to find the heart and soul of a beautiful family. This is Adriana Trigiani at her best.”
“The Good Left Undone is at once epic and intimate, a delightful novel about the mysterious lore of an unforgettable Italian family whose characters walk right off the page.”
“Adriana Trigiani is a gifted, natural storyteller and The Good Left Undone is her at the top of her game. This beautiful, sweeping historical epic about three generations of women paints an exquisite portrait of love, loss, the ravages of time and the price a family pays for its secrets. Brava!”
"An epic multigenerational love story. . . . Trigiani's adept character portrayals, deliciously described settings, and carefully considered details build momentum and intrigue from beginning to end."
"In The Good Left Undone, master storyteller Adriana Trigiani gifts us with an immersive epic that follows one family through generations and across the world. With her trademark humor and eye for detail, Adriana weaves a warm, rich, and majestic tapestry of matriarchs, secrets, and delights. No one with a beating heart will be able to resist the Cabrelli family, or soon forget their love or resilience—proof of Adriana's wisdom that 'a family is only as strong as their stories'."
—Qian Julie Wang
“Sweeping epic. . . . One to savor.”
“An immersive multigenerational saga that centers around the women in one family in a seaside town. . . . A must for women's fiction collections.”
"There are many reasons to love this novel—the incredible characters, the rich family history woven throughout, the beautiful setting—but first among them is the story that Trigiani tells."
"Reading an Adriana Trigiani book is like having an intimate conversation with a good friend. The Good Left Undone is a beautifully rendered love letter to several generations of Italian women as they navigate war, tragedy, love, and missed opportunities through interwoven stories that lay bare the soul of a single working-class family."
—The Week, “Emily Giffin’s 6 favorite books for those who love uncovering secrets”
“Adriana Trigiani is a treasure and The Good Left Undone is a gem: a sweeping epic that spans a century. Chronicling the fallout from the cataclysmic sinking of the Arandora Star — torpedoed by a German U-Boat in 1940 — this extraordinary novel manages to mourn the dead, celebrate the living, and remind us that every family has secrets that are heartbreaking, heartwarming, and (yes) inspiring.”
"Trigiani writes an unforgettable historical epic in Italy, France, Scotland and Churchill's England on the cusp of World War II. Matelda Cabrelli Roffo, the matriarch of her contemporary Italian family is determined to reveal her mother's secret past before it's too late. This rich family story is magnificient in the telling."
“The Good Left Undone is a wondrous novel of storytelling, love, war, religion and that which defines us all: family. Adriana Trigiani has outdone herself with her sharp eye, her humor and her warm and generous heart.”
“The Good Left Undone is an exquisite gem of a novel, as it flits between present day and the calamitous times of World War II. No one does historical fiction better than Trigiani. You will fall in love with the characters, especially Matelda Roffo. Godere!”
“The Good Left Undone is a wildly entertaining story about the life of the remarkable Italian nurse Domenica Cabrelli and her daughter Matelda. The novel is a wonderful love story, rife with sea captains and childhood sweethearts and a family that never gives up on one another. I adored it.”
“Adriana Trigiani has written the triumph of her career in this historical epic. This novel is the dramatic, emotional, and profound saga of three generations of women in the Cabrelli family of gemcutters—Domenica, Matelda, and Anina—and each character is more brilliant than the last. This novel shines like a flawless diamond, with a multifaceted narrative that shifts seamlessly between Viareggio, Marseilles, and Scotland, bringing to light a sweep of history that I never knew existed. Most of all, at its core is the generous, beating heart of family – and a love story that will seep into your soul. I have always loved Adriana Trigiani’s books, but The Good Left Undone is a crown jewel of historical fiction.”
"This beautifully written, immersive novel gripped me from the first page and didn’t let go. In The Good Left Undone, Adriana Trigani sweeps you up and takes you on an epic journey both geographically and emotionally in a story about love, grief and the heartbreaking secrets woven into the tapestry of every family. Trigani's evocative, richly textured prose conjures a fully-realised world with characters and situations that you feel acutely invested in - the cast of strong female characters resonated with me in ways I didn’t imagine and as I turned the last page I didn’t want this book to end. An emotional rollercoaster of a read, it's a book that you’ll need tissues for, but also one that brings immense joy. A must-read for 2022."
“A big-hearted writer who tells big stories.”
—Jeanette Walls, Virginia Living
“Adriana Trigiani reshapes the words of Phillip Larkin – ‘the good not done, the love not given, the time torn off unused’ -- as a focal point for a wonderfully agile novel that rounds off the sharp edges of our times."
“I can lie on my couch and travel the world – and through time – reading Adriana Trigiani’s The Good Left Undone. Italy, France, Scotland. 1920s to the present. Her storytelling is genius. Her understanding of love and family moves me to tears.”
“From time to time, readers are fortunate enough to come across a novel that transports us so completely to a different time and place, we can smell the air, taste the food. The Good Left Undone is such a book: the power and the beauty of Italy and the Italians, the devastation of wars and callous disregard for humans, the love of life and others; all come across in this exquisite novel. Trigiani has accomplished a true miracle.”
—W. Bruce Cameron
“This master storyteller has outdone herself with The Good Left Undone. What an epic, wonderful sprawling novel, her writing lush and luminous as she draws us into the world of three generations of women with her signature warmth, humor and huge heart. There is no-one like Adriana, and here she is at her absolute best.”
"Family secrets, family jealousies, across the generations, across the landscapes under the Tuscan sun, the charm of Marseille and the rugged beauty of Scotland, Domenica creates a legacy for her children and grandchildren to unravel. Adriana is, indeed, a storyteller second to none."
"Adriana Trigiani knows that a great life is made up of memories and morsels: Kisses and cakes; heartbreak and honey salves. In The Good Left Undone, Trigiani’s women share secrets in the safety of kitchens, are carried off to bed during war, fight to keep a sense of themselves, and appreciate that a first love that arrives second is the sweetest and most substantial of all."
“In The Good Left Undone, Adriana Trigiani once again proves her mastery at breaking your heart, and then mending it together again. Writing of strong women, steadfast loves, settings that whisk you away, and the legacy of the Cabrelli family, this is Trigiani at her finest. Sweeping yet intimate, The Good Left Undone is a love letter to matriarchs everywhere—prepare to be dazzled.”
“With its epic sweep, radiant characters, and uncommon insight, The Good Left Undone expertly spans generations and geography, luring the reader into a world where family love and family legacy are both a gift and an inspiration.”
“Adriana Trigiani’s latest novel is a delicious immersion into a hidden Italy, a world of Vatican jewelers, of ledgers, maps and strega, of people who tell time by the ‘bells and the baker,’ and are connected to their history and to the far corners of the spinning globe by love, blood, and rubies. And that’s just the first course of this literary feast, that is also a profound meditation on old age and an intimate conversation between generations of a quietly dazzling family.”
“This book had me at Italian food and jewelry! Full disclosure, I’m a huge fan of the novels of Adriana Trigiani, as they are always just what the literary doctor orders when I need to escape my modern life of email and carb-counting. The way she combines the sensual pleasure of homemade food and the complications of family drama (and comedy!) delights me. Adriana is like what would happen if Jane Austen and Nora Ephron had a baby. The Good Left Undone was, for me, her most satisfying novel yet because its themes of family loyalty, true love, and the possibility of forgiveness felt so inspiring to me at this strange time. Treat yourself to this vivid, dazzling, un-put-downable read that will take you away from ordinary cares and plunge you into the richly detailed world of a charming Italian village overlooking the sea. And the best news is, any carbs eaten while under the heady influence of The Good Left Undone completely do not count! And even if they do, who cares, it’s worth it, as is this gorgeous treat of a book.”
“It’s impossible not to be absolutely enthralled by the latest immersive Trigiani masterwork about family, food (oh my God, so delicious), loyalty and legacy. A story bristling with so much generous life, you’ll swear you are there for all of it: the great loves, the unfathomable losses, the betrayals and the secrets of the artisan Cabrelli family, especially with matriarch Matelda, caught between the end of her own life, the beginning of her granddaughter Anina’s, and the dramatic, love-torn and war-torn life her mother Domenica had led. Spanning Italy, France and England, and decades, The Good Left Undone is thrilling proof that, ‘A family is only as strong as their stories.’”
“Trigiani weaves a history of generations of a family with the skill andbrilliance of a high-wire artist.”
“A complex and absorbing reminder of the connection and grounding offamily, the stories that bind us, and the resilience of love amidst thedevastation of war.”
“The Good Left Undone is as exquisite as the jewels the Cabrelli family creates. The breadth of the story, Trigiani's trademark humor, and emotional depth is a memento mori. What a gift for us who now truly contemplate our mortality to follow Matelda Roffo as she contemplates her life and its meaning. Trigiani writes, ‘A family is only as strong as their stories.’ This family is made of iron.”
“A gorgeous and lush multi-generational epic about the Cabrellis, a vibrant Italian family descended from master jewelers, from the harrowing days leading up to WWII to the modern era, celebrating the pieces they create and the myths that power them and hold families together; an absolute triumph from Adriana Trigiani.”
"Trigiani has written an enthralling epic full of the heartache of war, hardship, and lost love. But the novel is also shot through with the overwhelming beauty of the world: an aventurine watch, a fresh bombolone, a stretch of Italian coast and, just as beautiful, the power of loyalty, courage, and love. The Good Left Undone shines not like the expertly-cut rubies of the Cabrellis. It shines like a roaring fire in the family’s hearth, warming and sustaining the reader in difficult times."
"Trigiani’s done it again! A sweeping, deeply affecting novel that straddles many countries — Scotland, France, and of course, la Bella Italy — as the indelible, indomitable women of the Cabrelli clan bear witness to the rise of fascism and its devastating consequences, and a century of family passions and conflicts. With her trademark wit and verve, Trigiani illustrates how the ghosts of the past always haunt the present, and how their stories demand to be told. Brava.”
“The Good Left Undone grabbed my heart and refused to let go. I fell in love with Adriana’s characters, and laughed and cried with them. You’ll adore Italy in the 1940s: it’s such a brilliant, wonderful escape.”