Being particularly fond of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, as well as Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation, Gounod’s opera (Romeo et Juliette), and Bernstein’s West Side Story, Anne Fortier’s Juliet was a must-read for me this year.
Fortier has written an entertaining mix of historical fiction, romance, and treasure hunt (à la Da Vinci Code). For teens who are into theater, enjoy a good love story, dream about traveling to Italy, or enjoy new versions of the classics, Juliet is a solid recommendation. After all, Romeo and Juliet are the ultimate teenaged, star-crossed lovers.
FORTIER, Anne. Juliet. 447p. Ballantine. 2010. Tr $25. ISBN 978-0-345-51610-7. LC 2010002093.
Adult/High School–Julie is shocked when her Aunt Rose dies and leaves everything to her twin sister and arch-rival, Janice. She is even more surprised when she secretly receives a letter sending her to Siena to retrieve a safe deposit box originally belonging to her mother. Julie hopes it will contain some kind of treasure, but instead it holds letters and texts that reveal the original 14th-century events upon which Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was based, as well as clues to finding a valuable statue. It turns out that Julie is actually Giulietta Tolomei, direct descendent of Romeo’s Juliet. From here, modern-day and past stories alternate chapters. Many people are trying to prevent Julie from finding the statue, not to mention learning the truth about her parents. And the search is complicated by attractive, intriguing Alessandro Salimbeni and his godmother, Eva Maria. They are relatives of Luciano Salimbeni, the man rumored to have killed Julie’s parents years before, and also descended from the original Salimbeni, an evil, powerful man responsible for the 14th-century tragedy. The Salimbenis are hoping for Julie’s help in negating the curse that seems to be on both of their houses. There is natural teen appeal here, and the author certainly maintains adequate pacing and suspense to keep her audience reading. The alternation between the past and present stories might slow down more reluctant readers, but fans of the play will have a great time putting the pieces together.–Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City