I have had this book for almost a year…it has been taunting me to read it and I finally broke down and picked it from my millions of books (why does Half Price Books make me spend so much money…it’s all their fault :)).
Juliet is a story surrounding Julie Jacobs, a 25 year-old wandering through life. Julie works odd jobs at Shakespeare festivals to earn money, after she dropped out of her masters program. At the beginning of the novel, Julie’s great Aunt Rose dies (the only mother Julie and her twin Janice have ever known). Reeling from the shock of her death and seeing her sister again (they don’t get along) Julie is not prepared for not receiving any part of her Aunt’s estate; it all goes to Janice, who throws it in Julie’s face. Hurt and desolate, Julie hides out where Rose’s butler (and father figure to Julie) Umberto, finds her. He gives her a letter from her Aunt, with a key, stating that Julie must find the safe deposit box that the key goes to. The key (and box) belonged to Julie’s mother and is Julie’s last legacy to her mom. The catch here is that all this needs to be accomplished in Siena, Italy where Julie was born. Armed with the key, her passport (with her real name Giulietta Tolomi) and her maxed out credit cards, Julie embarks on an Italian adventure. As she arrives in Siena, Julie meets Eva Maria Salimbeni and her godson Alessandro Santini. Eva Maria, upon learning Julie’s real name, regales her with the story of their families history of strife between the two. The Salimbeni and Tolomi families hate each other (like the Montagues and Capulets…anyone?!?!) and now Julie is right in the middle of the continued strife. As she finds the safe deposit box, learns more about her family history, falls in love with Alessandro, she learns that the true story of Romeo and Juliet lies here in Siena and she is a direct descendant from Giulietta Tolomi- the real Juliet. With this knowledge she tries to complete her mothers dying wish, find Giulietta’s eyes (2 big huge sapphires) and solve the “curse on both houses.”
Full of adventure, romance, and history, Juliet by Anne Fortier is a book worth the read. I could not put this book down, the story is so intriguing and the mix between history and present day was fascinating. The book starts in present day, but when Julie learns that the real story of Romeo and Juliet happened in Siena (and she has the diary to prove it) the story then goes back in time every other chapter to learn the true story of Romeo and Juliet. It was so interesting to read both stories simultaneously happening and learning about both Julie and Giulietta…I am impressed and embroiled in both their stories. I fell in love with this book from beginning to end…Julie is such an amazing character, that you have to fall in love with her and her adventure. She is witty and stubborn yet compassionate and caring; you root for her through out the novel and you want her to be the one to figure out the true mystery of Romeo and Juliet. Anne Fortier is an amazing story-teller and she is able to blend two stories together to create a book that is a book, once read, you won’t forget. Obviously, much research was required for this novel and Anne keeps the facts intact and creates a beautiful world of history and present day Siena.
The mystery and intrigue surrounding Giulietta’s eyes and Julie’s struggle to figure out where they were hidden, was very well written by Anne. I felt as though I could have been in the hunt for the eyes along with Julie and Alessandro (and others…). To be able to create a mystery surrounding one of the most popular stories of all time and keep everything coherent and factual, is a great feat. I congratulate you, Anne Fortier, for creating a novel surround and adding to the story of Romeo and Juliet and not detracting to the history and story of R&J. Go pick up this novel, you will not be disappointed in any aspect.
Rating: 450 pages out of 500.
Upcoming: Royal Blood by Rona Sharon and Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff.