Juliet by Anne Fortier

August 24, 2010
Written by

 

 

Juliet
Anne Fortier

Ballantine
8-24-10
Hardcover/464 pages
ISBN: 978-0-345-51610-7
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". . . a debut novel that will make all readers truly wish that she could write faster . . ."

Every once in a while – not often – a book comes along that not only is an “enjoyable read,” but is so intense, well-thought-out, and amazingly well-researched, that everything in the world around you ceases to exist. The dog barking in the living room at some wayward cat that had the nerve to cross on to his property disappears. The teenager who is whining about…well…everything, vanishes into thin air; and, you, the reader, are transported into a world that you didn’t even know existed and become a part of a historical period that is SO intriguing, there’s no way you can force yourself to put the book down and go back to normal life. Juliet is that book. “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” – Shakespeare (of course).

Julie Jacobs is a woman who basically goes through life not knowing, or even imagining, what is coming in her future. She spends most of her time bouncing from one summer camp to another where she teaches teenagers about Shakespeare, and gets them on the stage to give the performance of their lives. In fact, she’s standing on one such stage, rolling her eyes at a young Romeo who has lost the vial of poison he’s supposed to drink and is now disgusted at having to swallow a Tic-Tac in order to “die” properly when Julie receives the news that her beloved Aunt Rose has passed away.

Aunt Rose raised Julie and her horrific, money-grubbing twin sister, Janice, since their parents died tragically in a car accident in Italy many years ago. Aunt Rose brought the girls to America and raised them as her own. Julie rushes from the camp back to the beautiful house that was her childhood home. When she steps inside the door, she immediately sees that her sister is there, as well, packing up all the artwork and selling as much as she can so that she’ll get at least some money from Aunt Rose’s estate. Janice is a matchmaker by trade, and has absolutely no heart, as she sneers at Julie for being the “good one” that Aunt Rose truly adored. Amazingly enough, Umberto – Aunt Rose’s constant companion for as long as the girls’ can remember – informs Janice that she, in fact, is the one who’ll receive the totality of Aunt Rose’s estate. Julie is as amazed as her now exhilarated sister; she can’t believe that Aunt Rose wouldn’t have split the trust down the middle so that each girl would have a chance at a comfortable future.

Yet another surprise is on Julie’s horizon. Umberto gives to Julie a key that her mother had been carrying on the day she died; a key that unlocks a safety-deposit box located in Siena, Italy. She also receives a passport from Umberto in the name of Giulietta Tolomei, and he tells her that she must immediately fly to Siena to uncover a fantastical mystery that involves the true Romeo and Juliet; a curse that’s been in existence since 1340; and, a treasure of monumental proportions that’s referred to as Juliet’s Eyes.

Readers immediately go on the adventure of a lifetime, as famous feuds, vendettas, and ancient bloodlines are revealed to tell the true story of the world’s most famous tragic couple. From a financial advisor by the name of Francesco Maconi; to an artist who lives behind “the blue door” and knows exactly what happened so many years ago; to a woman by the name of Eva Maria who befriends Julie on the plane ride to Italy and seems to hover in both categories of “friend” and “enemy;” the characters introduced are beyond interesting. Not to mention, the way this fantastic author describes every nuance of the breathtaking Italian landscape makes her seem like the greatest painter who has ever lived.

One of the most memorable lines in this book that I will carry with me always is: Everything we say is a story. But nothing we say is just a story. This book is not only an adventure worthy of DaVinci Code status, but it’s also a trip into one of the most lush and exciting time periods in history. Anne Fortier has written a debut novel that will make all readers truly wish that she could write faster so that we can get swept into her next novel ASAP.

Reviewer: Amy E. Lignor

 

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