It is only when her aunt dies that Juliet, or rather Giulietta, learns the truth of her past as she is sent to the streets of Siena, Italy, where the real Giulietta and Romeo lived and lost, searching for a long lost treasure.
It is there that she learns the reason of her parents’ tragic deaths as she becomes steeped in a bloody history that still calls for revenge.
As Giulietta begins to fall for a man who is most definitely not Romeo, she begins to realise that the ‘curse’ upon the two feuding families is still at work, and that she may be part of a larger story that is still unfolding.
As a student, Romeo and Juliet was never one of my favourite plays of Shakespeare. I found it too sappy for my liking, and also a love story that wasn’t exactly ideal to aspire to.
This book has been on my ‘to read’ list on Goodreads for awhile, but it sort of slipped off my radar as books are wont to do on Goodreads. It was only when it was on sale, with 40% off this week at Wal-Mart that I decided to buy it, bored with everything else I own. And I’m so glad I did!
Historical novels were once a real passion of mine, well before Goodreads. I love the richness provided by history and events that took place in the past, filled with unanswered questions, and of course romance. And this is exactly what this book delivers.
While it wasn’t a fast-paced read, there was a lot of information to digest, and each chapter is one to be savoured,
Giulietta, the protagonist, unlike her Shakespeare counterpart, is not exactly lacking in personality. Orphaned at a young age, she’s been struggling to gain a place for herself in the world as she battled for her beloved aunt’s attention with her younger sister, Janice. It is only when Janice gets her aunt’s house in her will, that Giulietta finally goes to her birthplace to discover the well-buried secrets of her family. It is there that she finally discovers something she cares about and has a stake in. Watching her grow up and become her own person was a really rewarding experience.
Interspersed with the real story of Giuietta and Romeo, these chapters told the tale of the tragic lovers, whose story never ended with their deaths. While these chapters were sometimes a bit slow, they were still full of interesting characters and high stakes. It is through these chapters that we learn of the treasure that the present-day Giulietta tries to find, and how the two feuding families have still not been forgiven for the events that happened.
Like any good historical novel, no character is superfluous. Even Janice, Giulietta’s evil twin sister, redeems herself by the end, as she too grows and stands by her sister. And like Janice, no character is simply two dimensional. Fortier presents characters in one light, only to reveal something about them a little later to make you change your mind, and then once again by the end of the story. It made my head spin!
While the romance took awhile to start, thankfully, it wasn’t sappy when it it began. While I had imagined a Romeo counterpart for present-day Giulietta, this both happens and does not happen. Sounds confusing right? While, Giulietta does indeed fall in love with her Romeo, this happens in an unexpected way, and I was glad for the way that it was made fresh. Their relationship is filled with unsaid things and secrets, which keeps it engaging.
In the beginning, the story is kind of set up like treasure hunt, but doesn’t end up being about the treasure for the majority of the book. This is why I found it more than a bit jarring that a random host of characters show up at the end of the book (no really, their names have never been mentioned before), that they kidnap the main characters, and then demand to be taken to the treasure. This ridiculous turn of events kind of soured the ending for me, and this is one of the only negative points of the book.
Filled with history, romance and intrigue, Anne Fortier’s Juliet takes you not only on journey to the cobbled-streets of Siena, but into the hearts of literature’s most beloved characters, well before Shakespeare had even heard of them.
So for that: 4.5/5.
Thanks for reading,