Lucia Sartori, treasured daughter of a hardworking Italian family who owned the Groceria where service came first and customers followed, is in her seventies when the novel opens. Elderly and vivacious, she swoops into the Greenwich Village apartment with the “chic look of New York’s ladies who stay in the moment.” Inviting a young playwright to tea to dispose of some of her elegant clutter, she explains the multitude of boxes from “B. Altman,” the formerly famous department store that was the height of elegance in 1950s New York.
Lucia’s skill with a needle had landed her a fine job in the couturier section of B. Altman’s, and Lucia adored her job for the wealthy uptown women who personified gracious living. But she lived in a time when girls lived at home till they married. Lucia refuses to quit her job, and thus severs her engagement with childhood sweetheart, Dante DiMartino, much to her parents’ chagrin. Later, Lucia meets the tall, handsome and urbane John Talbot, who epitomizes elegant living, and she is smitten. He applauds her career and they plan to marry, despite her father’s concern about this “outsider” who wants to take away his only daughter.
While absorbed in wedding plans, buying items for the house they are building, and seeing her limitless future, life shows its darker side when Papa Sartori becomes ill. Through it all, Lucia learns that family is always with us when everything else fails. This novel is filled with people who seem so real, you see them going about their lives after the book’s last page is turned. A delightful read.