Wednesday, 25 August 2010


This book was my first experience with reading an unpublished book and I have to say that it felt pretty awesome knowing that I was reading a book that hadn't been published yet! Honestly! How cool is that?

I read this book a few weeks ago and have waited to review it until it was on the shelves. If you're looking for a good historical fiction read full of wonderful descriptions of Italy this is the book for you!

Author: Anne Fortier
Genre: Historical Fiction (Italy)
Pages: 464
Published: August 2010

Synopsis: This novel tells the age old story of Romeo and Juliet ... but with a modern twist. Set in two different times -- modern day and 1340 -- Fortier tells a story that intertwines the lives of two women, Julie Jacobs and Giulietta Tolomei.

Julie and her identical twin Janice were raised by their aunt in the U.S after their parents were suddenly killed in Italy while the twins were still babies. Decades later when their aunt dies, Julie is given a letter that sends her on a treasure hunt in Siena, Italy. While there, she learns that the research her parents had been working on before they died is connected with the origin of the real Romeo and Juliet. Julie is also surprised to learn that she and her sister are descendants of twins Giulietta and Giannozza Tolomei from 1340's Siena, Italy. She quickly becomes enthralled and swept up with the mystery surrounding Giulietta.

My Thoughts: I'm a total sucker for historical fiction ... throw in some romance and suspense by a great writer and I'm in heaven! This was a wonderful first novel from author Anne Fortier. Fortier is able to tell the stories of two women and show how they are connected even though they lived centuries apart. She deftly combines suspense, romance and even a little adventure to make a very enjoyable read.

Back in high school I had read Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and still had the gist of the storyline but I wish I would have studied up on the Bard's version before reading this book. I had a hard time remembering who Paris was and Mercutio etc. It didn't hinder me with understanding Fortier's storyline but I wracked my brain trying to remember my high school English classes ... not an easy feat!

When I was in Italy three years ago I visited Juliet's balcony in Verona ... only to be told that the real Juliet hadn't even lived in Verona and that Shakespeare had made that little change on his own (creative license? Who knows?). I was also interested to learn that Shakespeare didn't come up with the original idea for Romeo and Juliet and, in fact, the first story was written over a century before the Bard got his hands on it. Huh.

"Juliet" is filled with vivid descriptions of the scenery and the people of the time making it easy for me to picture what life would have been like in Siena in the 1300's. I loved learning about the yearly Palio (horse race) as well as the contradas or wards of Siena that were represented by an animal masot and how fiercely loyal people were to the contrada in which they lived. Fascinating stuff!

The stories of Julie and Giulietta are told in juxtaposition creating suspense in both storylines which I loved. I think it helped keep up the momentum of both storylines because the story flips back and forth between the two women so that the only way to figure out how one character's story continues is to keep reading about the other main character.

For a large book (464 pages) this was a quick, hard-to-put down read. Highly recommended.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars


Anonymous said...

This sounds like something I would love.

Romeo and Juilet is the only Shakespeare I'm really familiar with, but I make up for that by being able to recite vast chunks of dialog from memory.

Aren't advance reader copies wonderful? Reading them makes me feel special.

Janssen said...

The Hunger Games was the first book I ever read before it was published (I was working for a professor helping her sort all the pre-published books she received) and wow, was it awesome to read it early.

Laurie said...

I was lucky that my sister's friend who works in publishing let me read this book. I'm hoping that I can read more pre-published books.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see that you enjoyed the book as much as I did. I'm a slow reader and I had that book finished within 3 days--totally neglected the kiddies but thorougly enjoyed those three days :)

Laurie said...

It was a great book. Love how it flips from the past to the present. A great read. Anon - have you read "A Winter's Sea" by Susanna Kearsley? A wonderful book as well!

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