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+