Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review: Juliet by Anne Fortier

Julie Jacobs has always lived in the shadow of her larger-than-life twin, Janice, but when their last living relative unexpectedly passes away, Julie finds herself launched into the limelight of her own life. Much to her shock and chagrin, Julie's inheritance consists of a cryptic letter promising a long-lost fortune, a key, and a new name - her real name, Giulietta Tolomei. Julie's whole life has been a lie and, swamped in debt with nothing to lose, she sets out for Siena to follow the trail of clues her mother left behind nearly two decades before. As Giulietta retraces the steps of her famous ancestress and namesake - Shakespeare's Juliet - and learns the true tragedy behind the legendary lovers, she begins to wonder if some secrets are better left buried. Unfortunately, there is no turning back now, for something sinister has been unleashed on the streets of Siena. Modern-day Giulietta is caught in an ancient blood feud and the only way out is to unearth the treasure that holds the key to her family's fate.

There is something irresistible about Shakespeare's star-crossed young lovers, and Anne Fortier takes the allure to new heights in her ambitious saga that is equal parts historical romance and modern mystery. Juliet seamlessly blends fact and fiction to create a wholly original version of the timeless lovers' twisted fate. The novel alternates between the original events of 1340 and Julie Jacobs' present day escapades, and the flashbacks to medieval Siena are unquestionably the most captivating aspect of the story. Fortier's Romeo and Giulietta are a little more mature than Shakespeare's characters, making their love more believable and, consequently, even more heartbreaking. It was a delight to see a different side of the immortal duo: rather than wallowing in self-pity, Romeo takes daring leaps of faith and remains unswervingly loyal to his Giulietta, while Giulietta herself shows quite a bit of spunk and even a little darkness. The vignettes envelop readers in the atmosphere of the bygone age and make the familiar story simultaneously fresh and foreboding.

The parallel modern-day events move slowly at first, but the latter half of the novel pulls readers into the intrigue and danger surrounding the Tolomei family secrets and keeps them guessing with a constant stream of shocking revelations. The two narratives are told in a subtly different style and cadence that distinguishes them and demonstrates Fortier's talent for storytelling, and the Shakespearean quotes sprinkled through out are an effective addition. However, the modern plot occasionally becomes confusing, and it's never quite clear how much the past and present converge. At times, characters conflate the medieval Giulietta and Romeo with their contemporary counterparts to the point that it is impossible to tell to which pair they are referring or if, in fact, the two are one and the same. The plot would be much more coherent if the foreshadowing was eventually explained in full, rather than leaving allusions half-fulfilled. Though the modern aspect of the novel faltered a bit, Juliet is still an overall thrilling and enchanting tale that will entertain both fans of the Bard and newcomers to the literary icon.


Click here to purchase Juliet by Anne Fortier

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Random House as part of a Pump Up Your Books virtual tour. This did not affect my review in any way.

Read an excerpt and check out the other tour stops here.

Tomorrow: Don't miss Anne Fortier's guest post on the enduring appeal of William Shakespeare!


Cheryl said...

Thanks so much for your lovely review of Anne's book. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


Bookventures said...

Am glad you enjoyed this one too. I read this a while back and had similar feelings. I'll try to pass by tomorrow for Anne's guest post. Thanks for sharing : )

lisa :) said...

I just got this one for my birthday so I'll be reading it soon! Glad you liked it and looking forward to the guest post!

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Thank you all so much for stopping by! I love hearing your thoughts =) I'm so glad you enjoyed the review - and, Lisa, I hope you enjoy the book! Happy Birthday!

LilMissMolly said...

I don't read many reviews that make me want to immediately go out and buy the book, but this one did. Thank you!

Kate said...

I've been reading Juliet for about two weeks but I just can't get into it. Did you get to a point in the book where it picks up more? I'm on page 146 and have come to a road block.

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Wow LilMissMolly, thank you! That's truly flattering! =)

Kate - Well I don't know what all has happened by page 146, but I think the book picks up a little more toward the latter half. I really enjoyed the flashbacks, but the present narration was sometimes hard to follow. I enjoyed it but it wasn't a knockout read.

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