I bought this book on a whim at Half-Priced Books about a year ago. I wasn’t expecting much from it, to be honest- I’ve never really thought any books that attempt to adapt a Shakespeare play lived up to the original texts. They all ended up being pale imitations, and I’ve constantly found myself unimpressed.
Juliet, however, is different, and I’m so glad that I gave it a chance.
One of the books main strengths is how beautifully realistic the characters are. Juliet’s protagonist is remarkably relatable: Julie is a young woman who hasn’t yet discovered what she wants to do with her life and always feels as if she’s in the shadow of her more glamorous twin sister, Janice. Julie is wry, thoughtful, and extremely realistic; throughout the book I felt like she was more of a close friend than an ink-and-paper creation. The relationship between the sisters is one of the best parts of the book, by the way- you’ll find yourself reluctantly loving Janice because you simply can’t help yourself, which, you’ll soon realize, is exactly how Julie feels about her sister.
I don’t want to reveal much about the plot in fear of spoilers, but here are the bare bones of it: after their great aunt, who had raised the girls their entire lives, passes away, Janice is unexpectedly inherits everything and Julie is seemingly cut out of the will. However, her aunt instead leaves her a plane ticket to Siena and a letter explaining that her mother had something mysterious hidden in her safety deposit box in Italy- something so potentially valuable that she may have been killed for it. So Julie finds herself in Siena trying to unravel the mystery of her family, the roots of which go back a lot farther than she would have ever expected… and which has something to do with the true story that inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
This novel basically has everything: beautiful, witty dialogue, a family curse, a relatable heroine, and a love story that spans generations. It’s a must read for anyone who loves history, romance, and (of course) Shakespeare.
My Rating: A+
W.B. Yeats is one of the greatest poets in the history of ever. I’ve only had the displeasure of meeting one person who doesn’t like Yeats and that guy is, in fact, an idiot. But what a lot of people don’t know is that some of Yeats’ greatest poems were inspired by a woman named Maud Gonne, and she… well. It seems she really didn’t return the sentiment.
Yeats and Gonne met when they were both in their early twenties and the romance (or lack thereof) lasted for almost the rest of their lives. She was an Irish revolutionary, and he was completely enamored with her, to the point of obsession. She was his Muse, really; references to her are rife within the poet’s embodied works. Yeats proposed to her four times throughout their lives… and each time she said no.
Depressing, right? Yeats is pretty much the poster child for unrequited love. By most accounts they were good friends and she was fond of him- she just didn’t want to marry him.
Things get a little weird after that. Yeats, in his fifties, decided that he really needed to get married and pass on the legacy of his poetic genes before he died. It was then that he decided to propose to Gonne’s daughter, who was in her twenties and who he had known all her life. Creepy, right? I guess he figured if he couldn’t get her mom he could get the next best thing (there’s a joke I can make about Twilight and werewolves and weird vampire babies here, but I will abstain). Luckily, she refused, and Yeats eventually married a nice woman named Georgie, with whom he shared a happy marriage with even though she was his dream girl.
My friend, who loves Yeats, told me once that he “is good with words, not women.” I think that sums it up quite nicely.
I’ll admit it. I’m not exactly an expert on human interaction. I manage to get by fairly well because I’m nice to everyone and cute enough that my lack of social grace comes off as being more charming than embarrassing. But despite being “absolutely freaking adorable” as so many of my peers claim, I’m a bit of a failure in the romantic sphere.
I blame my love of books for this.
You see, it’s not so much that I grew up reading about Mr. Darcy and holding out for his real-life counterpart (I can safely say that I’ve never pined away after a fictional character, though I must admit that liking Mr. Darcy is worlds better than liking a sparkly vampire). It’s more that I’ve been waiting to meet someone who loved reading and writing as much as me. Someone who doesn’t mind my perpetually inky fingers and who appreciates the smell of old books, with their yellowed pages and cracked leather spines. Someone who knows that Frankenstein isn’t the name of the monster but the man who created him, who is aware that the Divine Comedy is loads more than just the Inferno, and will argue with me over the literary merit of the Harry Potter series.
I was thoroughly convinced that nobody like this existed, but I’ve met a lot of boys at my college who at least appreciate literature, if not live it and breath it like I do. But still, even these boys will give me strange looks when I begin to jabber on about how fantastic of a character Raskolnikov is or start quoting Shakespeare in casual conversation.
I suppose I’m just going to have to resign myself to being a spinster for the rest of my life. Only instead of having a dozen cats I’ll have a house bursting at the seams with books.
(Note- I posted this on an old wordpress blog that I’ve since abandoned due to completely forgetting my username and password, so if it looks familiar, don’t worry! I’m not plagiarizing!)
Alright, I’ll admit it- I completely adore E.E. Cummings’ poetry. It seems like a lot of young adults who don’t know much about poetry do, because he’s “edgy” and “different” and writes very frankly about sex, which seems like the coolest thing when you’re a high school freshman and you have no idea what the hell that Frost guy is trying to say. (Sorry Robert, baby, I love you!)
A lot of those kids don’t know that Cummings has written over 2,900 poems, ranging from classical sonnets to almost unreadable free verse poems. The extent of their knowledge generally ends after they memorize a line or two from “i carry your heart with me,” which they recite soulfully to the girl they’re trying to date in order to sound romantic and sensitive (I have not done this because I am a girl and reciting lines of poetry to boys is NOT, as it turns out, a good way to get them to like you). You see, I just spent a semester working on a thesis project on E.E. Cummings, and after spending the last five months or so of my life up to my eyeballs in his poetry and criticism about his poetry, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on his work.
I’m not, of course. Not by a longshot. But I did pick up a thing or two.
“-in Just” is ostensibly a lighthearted poem written about the innocence of children playing during the springtime- however, the inclusion of the balloonman in the poem, who is old and, most worryingly, “goat-footed,” suggests that there is a darker threat constantly looming above this idyllic world. I mean, come on. What does the qualifier “goat-footed” remind you of? Pan the sex-addicted satyr? The devil? Yeah, not exactly the figures you’d want hanging around young kids, huh?
This isn’t one of his most popular or relatable poems, but it is one that I think exemplifies a lot of the themes that he included in his embodied works. Hopefully you all enjoy it as much as I do!
You can view the poem here: in Just-