Did you know that the earliest version of Romeo & Juliet comes from Siena, Italy? I sure did not! Juliet by Anne Fortier was featured in People Magazine over the summer and at once knew I needed to get my hands on it. Although I’ve been reading it on and off since August, the time spent on this novel is not due to my indifference, but to other books I ordered from the library that took precedence time after time.
25 year old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her aunt Rose. The shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her estate to Julie’s twin sister Janice. Instead, Julie receives a key to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy. This key sends Julie on a remarkable adventure with tremendous history. She soon delves into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still traumatized from the murder of her family, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. The star crossed lovers tore medieval Siena apart and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, with the story reaching its culmination in Shakespeare’s tragic play. Julie begins to quickly discover that in the ancient city of Siena past and present intertwine and she is caught up in six centuries worth of superstitions and feuds among families.
I found this book to be extremely well researched. So much, in fact, that I was actually excited to read the Author’s Note at the conclusion of the novel! Anne Fortier certainly knows what she is talking about when it comes to the history of Romeo and Juliet. However, at times the plot seemed to be a little contrived and bordering on cheesy. Some parts were outstanding while others fell a little flat. But just when I felt like I was about to roll my eyes the author transports you into the past and are told detailed stories from the middle ages that illustrate beauty, tragedy and drama. In the end I’d have to give three cheers to Anne Fortier for coming up with this work of historical fiction.