I sometimes (ok, often) have insomnia, and last night when I woke up at three, I opened my Nook and continued reading a novel I have carried around a lot the past few days, snatching a few pages here and there. At about 5:15 a.m. I closed the Nook and breathed a great sigh of satisfaction, having finished the book. Juliet, by Anne Fortier.
Italian-born Julie Jacobs, orphaned with her twin sister at age three, and adopted by an aunt, wanders a bit aimlessly through life teaching Shakespeare workshops for kids. She’s 25 now, and on the unexpected death of Aunt Rose, she is further shocked by the news that Aunt Rose everything to her sister Janice. Their gardener and cook, Umberto, takes Julie aside to reveal that Aunt Rose has secretly left her an envelope containing a key to a safe deposit box in Siena, and clues to her shrouded past. Oh, and her real name: Giulietta Tolomei. The key is her connection to her parents who died in Italy, and a letter from Aunt Rose suggests that a great treasure which she should try to find.
Leaving behind her crass, gloating sister, Julie heads to Italy, becoming entwined in her own ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story while discovering family connections she could never have imagined. She’s not sure what the treasure is, but it’s clear that other people are interested in it, too, and the pursuit becomes a dangerous business.
The characters leapt off the page at me, and it’s not simply a re-hash of Romeo and Juliet, but a new and interesting story. There are lots of R & J references, though it doesn’t require great familiarity with Shakespeare’s version to enjoy it. I loved the back-and-forth play of the modern story with the historical, revealed as Julie discovers it. There seemed to be some minor issues of coordinating the passage of time in a couple of scenes, but overall, I enjoyed it a lot!
BONUS: Maybe you are more familiar with the Goodreads website than I am, but I recently discovered “Listopia” there. It’s under the “Explore” tab on the home page, and when I entered “Italy” in the Listopia search box, I got all kinds of great lists for books about Italy, set in Italy, by Italian authors, and so on. I will definitely use this resource for choosing books to review here, and very likely for other book searching too. Have you used Listopia? Found any great books there?