Thursday, September 16, 2010
Review: Juliet by Anne Fortier
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!