Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved Aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.
This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?
From Anne Fortier comes a sweeping, beautifully written novel of intrigue and identity, of love and legacy, as a young woman discovers that her own fate is irrevocably tied—for better or worse—to literature’s greatest star-crossed lovers.
Juliet by Anne Fortier
This is one of those books I love for the concept. I’ve read it a couple of times and there’s just something about (good) retellings of classic stories that appeals.
Anne Fortier clearly has a love of Italy, and her reworking of the Romeo and Juliet story to cover centuries is smart, taking lots of twists and turns.
Juliet gives our lovers a second chance in the present, but they’re not a couple of irresponsible teenagers now. I like that this version strips away some of Shakespeare’s absurdities (earlier versions of the story are much more sensible than the rushed famous version!).
I don’t often enjoy the first person perspective because it puts some severe limitations on the parts of the story that can be told. I want to get inside the heads of other main characters, particularly when there’s a romance aspect of the story involved. In the case of Juliet, it worked for the mystery aspect, but not so much for the romance. It’s very hard to understand why our Romeo of the present is falling in love when we see the whole thing through “Juliet’s” eyes.
Speaking of the romance, Romeo and Giulietta this may be, but romance is not the main focus of the book. While I don’t enjoy lengthy declarations of love, I would have welcomed a bit more on that front, considering the subject matter! I also didn’t need lengthy sex scenes, but the fade-to-black was pretty jarring for our present day characters!
I do love the setup for the present day part of the story. Our two leads are suspicious of each other and do not even LIKE each other at first. There’re a lot of secrets being kept and trust is slow to come.
Juliet has a lot going for it, and I can forgive the slightly dry romantic aspect because the concept is so good.