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?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A retelling of the story of Romeo and Juliet so good, it’s hard to pick the book down!
I loved this book. The retelling of Romeo and Juliet was very intriguing and interesting. I loved the instant passion between the old lovers right from the beginning. In fact, I think I actually liked this version of Romeo and Juliet even better than Shakespeare’s. I also enjoyed how the story continued to flashback/flash forward in alternating chapters. It was fun to “learn” the details of Romeo and Juliet’s love right along with Julie, but also see what trouble she was getting herself into as well.
The mystery of Julie’s ancestors unravels slowly but surely, this was very well written. It seems as though danger lurks around every corner of this story, and you can’t seem to figure out who you can or cannot trust. So there is the feeling of constantly being on the edge when it comes to what’s going to happen next. There were moments in the story when I felt like I was listening to an excerpt out of Indiana Jones.
The characters in Juliet were very well developed. I truly felt like we were looking at this book straight from Julie’s eyes. If she missed a small detail, it’s likely you did to, even if it was right there staring you in the face. The only thing I was a little disappointed in was the development of Julie and “Romeo’s” relationship. There seemed to be almost no chemistry between the two at all, in my opinion. Somehow, since the sparks didn’t start right at the start, the characters just did not click the way I would have liked them to. This made the end of the story sort of fall flat. Perhaps Anne Fortier was a little too concerned with keeping the romantic scenes to a minimum, which left wanting more, for example, when they actually finally kissed there were no real descriptors or anything to help you to feel what Julie was feeling. To me the passage was a fancy way of saying “and we made out.” The lack of chemistry could also have been because she was trying to keep Romeo’s identity a mystery, therefore the characters had to remain on opposite ends of the book for a long time, too long for the reader to really get into the relationship. I guess I just wanted more here.
Despite my one misgiving over the book, I really did love it. I listened to it via audio (which explains my lack of naming characters – since I probably couldn’t spell half of them), and the narrator was wonderful! I love the story of Romeo and Juliet, tragedy and all, and this book really just made it all the more beautiful. Juliet breathed even more life into an already excellent story.