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Juliet by Anne Fortier: A Book Review

Juliet
Author: Anne Fortier
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery & Thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: 2011
Pages: 464
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis:  When Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy, she is told that 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 immortalized 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?
   
     My Review:  I have always been a fan of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I’ve always found it romantic that they loved each other so much that they gave their lives to be with one another. However, Anne Fortier took the classic, Shakespeare Juliet and a modern day Juliet and interwove their stories together with a flair of a mystery and a spice of a thriller treasure hunt. Anne Fortier keeps you guessing throughout most of the book as to who some of the characters really are in relationship to others, and what their motives are. I could guess correctly some of the time, and others provided a nice twist.

     The story moved at a good pace, with the storyline altering between Italy in the 14th century and the modern day. Out of the two lines, I found myself a bit more drawn in by the ancient tale.  The modern day mystery was good, but it just didn’t quite grip me the way the characters in the ancient times did, which was supposedly the real people behind Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Fortier goes beyond the Shakespeare’s play and draws upon other versions of the classic tale. The best part of the book, for me, though, was the way Fortier brings Italy to life.  Her descriptions of the buildings and the countryside made me see Italy as I imagine it would be.

     The two Juliets have distinct personalities. I felt more drawn to the medieval Juliet for she was bold and vengeful. She has lost all her family, except her married sister, and wants revenge on the man who is responsible for their deaths. However, the modern day Juliet was meek and passive. She is not the driving force of the novel. Rather, she is outshone by her sister, Gianozza, who is spontaneous and brave. The author portrays a great contrast between about how Western women were viewed in medieval Italy to how they are treated in our modern day society. For while the medieval Juliet had no choice to how she would live her life and is forced to resign to her fate by the decisions of others, the modern day Juliet does have a choice of how she would like to live her life.

     Overall, this book is filled with romance, mystery, tragedy, family, and adventure. I recommend this book for readers of mystery novels (especially along the lines of the Da Vinci Code), romance novels, Shakespeare fans. I also thought this book reminded me of fans of the movie, Romancing the Stone. This is a perfect book for anyone vacationing to Italy and wants something to read while sipping coffee outside of a cafe.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This the author's official book trailer of Juliet:

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