AUTHOR: Anne Fortier
INFO: Hardcover, Fiction, 445 pages
PUBLISHED: Ballantine Books, 2010
HOW I GOT IT: Purchased
FROM GOODREADS: 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.
MY TAKE: I decided to read this book after I watched the movie "Letters To Juliet". I found myself in love with the Shakespeare classic all over again. I was not disappointed in this newest examination and retelling of The Bard's ill-fated "Montagues and Capulets".
We traipse along with Julie as she travels from America to Italy. She is in search of a "family treasure" to which she now holds the key. While she envisions wealth, she actually unearths a mystery that promises to be worth far more than she can imagine. The safety deposit box offers up even further questions from the past that must be answered before Julie can look to her future.
The plot was well constructed. Elements of mystery, danger and romance are beautifully woven into a story that seamlessly flows from the present to the 1300s and back. We shadow Julie on her prowl through the current streets of Siena and the dark past of written memories. As she uncovers various lies that have been told and secrets buried for decades, she finds that her life has never been what she thought, nor have the people in it.
The characters from the past held more interest for me than the present ones. They were romantic and driven by passion. The modern day counterparts tended to come across as a bit more self-absorbed and at times, annoying. The author created other players such as Umberto, that I would have liked to have learned more about.
Thorough research is evident as Anne Fortier describes the city of Siena in the past and the parallels in the present. The first line in her author's notes is "While Juliet is a work of fiction, it is steeped in historical fact." I think that statement sums up what I love about historical fiction. The author is able to take known facts and shape an enjoyable as well as educational fictional story around those nuggets from time. An engrossing tale such as this prompts the reader to strike out on their own and learn more about some of the real story behind the fabricated tale. For instance, I had never heard of the infamous "Palio" which is a medieval horse race that is still being run today. It is something that I would now love to explore myself.
I highly recommend this book to fans of Shakespeare, historical fiction and romance. Mystery buffs would also enjoy this tale of love and woe, of Juliet and her Romeo.
WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, The Book Depository, Powell's Books, IndieBound
~~~~~ Disclaimer: All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own. I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links. I may receive books in order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review - only a completely honest one. Each review post denotes how I obtained the book.