Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: Juliet by Anne Fortier

When Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy, she is told it will lead her to an old family treasure. Soon she is launched on a winding and perilous journey into the history of her ancestor Giulietta, whose legendary love for a young man named Romeo rocked the foundations of medieval Siena. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in Shakespeare’s unforgettable blood feud, she begins to realize that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is the next target. It seems that the only one who can save Julie from her fate is Romeo—but where is he? (summary from cover).

I read a lot of favorable reviews of Juliet when it came out last year, but just got around to reading it. It was the perfect book for traveling--let's just say I didn't want the plane flight to end! I felt like I was on the hunt with Julie as she uncovered clues about her true identity and tried to unravel the tangled legacy of her family and their relationship to an ancient curse.

The format of alternating between the present day and the events of 1340 that led to Shakespeare's famous play kept my interest, and I loved that the characters were all three-dimensional and complex. Both the hero and heroine have things in their past they'd rather not share, and other characters blur the line between good and evil. The relationship between Julie and her twin sister Janice was especially well-written, as they move from being bitter childhood rivals to working together and finally understanding each other better.

Beautiful Siena
Fortier's writing evoked the lush countryside around Siena and made me want to hop on a plan to Italy immediately. The mix of superstition and family loyalty in the Sienese was really interesting, as was the importance of the Palio, a horse race that still takes place today. I wish the author had explained some of the Italian architectural terms she used (like loggia) as I sometimes had trouble visualizing where the scene was taking place, but that was a minor issue with an otherwise engaging book.

Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars. This is a wonderful book for these last remaining weeks of summer or any time you want to escape into a different place and time. If you love history, mystery or romance (or all three) I would recommend reading Juliet.

Details: 480 pages, published by Ballantine, July 2011
Source: personal copy

1 comment:

  1. I was just looking at this book in a shop this weekend - thanks for the review!