When HarperCollins Canada asked me if I would like to be a part of their blog tour for author Anne Fortier and her impressive sophomore novel, Juliet, I jumped at the chance after reading the book’s synopsis.
“Juliet” follows Julie Jacobs on a trip to Siena, Italy where she is to locate an old family treasure. Soon she is launched on a precarious journey into the true history of her ancestor Giulietta, whose legendary love for a young man named Romeo turned medieval Siena upside down. 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 the only one who can save her from her fate is Romeo . . . but where is he?
Juliet is a splendid romantic mystery set in Siena, Italy involving 25-year-old American Juliet Jacobs, a.k.a. Giulietta Tolomei, a direct descendant of THE Juliet of Romeo and Juliet notoriety. Juliet’s story is told in two centuries, Jacobs’ own, and the 14th century when the original Romeo and Giulietta’s tale unfolded in Siena – not Verona as Shakespeare had us believe.
When Juliet’s guardian, her great Aunt Rose, passes away, she leaves her entire estate to Juliet’s heinous twin sister Janice (the opposite of Juliet in almost every way) with whom she has an estranged relationship. For the single Juliet, who has never shown much ambition beyond teaching Shakespeare in summer camp, she leaves a mysterious key to a safety deposit box in her home town of Siena and a letter encouraging her to discover a treasure that will unlock the secrets of her own ancestry as well as the death of her parents. So begins Juliet’s exciting journey to medieval Tuscany where she uncovers history changing secrets and events that will put her life at risk while possibly introducing her to her own Romeo.
The novel juxtaposes between Juliet’s first person narrative in modern day and a third person narrative of the never before revealed events in the lives of the original Romeo Marescotti and Giulietta Tolomei. It will likely be a far more intoxicating read for those who have sound knowledge of Shakespeare’s play but I believe it will stand up as an above average read for lovers of historical fiction and romantic mystery even if you don’t. Juliet boasts a dramatic cast of intriguing characters including Juliet’s family butler Umberto, Eva Maria Salimbeni, her nefarious nephew Alessandro Santini, and the artist Maestro Lippi who will keep you riveted to the plot every step of the way!
Anne Fortierwho is as beautiful as the Juliet we all imagine, writes with splendor, intelligence and elegance and I was captivated by this story from Chapter 1. Her heroine is a complex character who is far from perfect which makes her refreshingly interesting and Fortier has obviously done a great deal of research, not only about medieval and modern day Siena, but also about Romeo and
Juliet. Like the Capulets and Montagues, she writes of two families who have been feuding for centuries – the Tolomeis and Salimbenis (who actually existed) – and her description of Siena is so perfect that you will find yourself fully immersed in it without any hesitation. For an armchair tourist like myself, I was in heaven!
There are so many deceptive twists and turns in this adventurous novel that it will keep you guessing until the final pages. The only thing that disappointed me about it was the “love scene” in Chapter VIII.II and without giving away anything, I’ll just say that it was a pretty big disappointment at that. My star rating dropped from 4.5 to 4 because of it.
However, it has been a joy to stumble upon a read this good. I worried for nothing about being able to read the book fast enough for HarperCollins’ deadlines, but I needn’t have as I could barely put it down. Reading Juliet is the perfect way to spend a chilly autumn day and I will be recommending this fascinating book, which will change your perception of Romeo and Juliet forever, to my girlfriends for a long time to come.
Anne Fortier, PhD. will be appearing at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto from October 30 – November 1 so don’t miss this opportunity to see her in person and to ask her all about the adventures of Juliet!
Thank you HarperCollins Canada! Find out more about the upcoming Juliet Blog Tour with Anne Fortier at www.facebook.com/HarperCollinsCanada, twitter.com/HarperCollinsCA and through the Savvy Reader Newsletter at www.harpercollins.ca/members/newsletters/samples/19.html