Julie and Romeo: A Novel

Julie and Romeo: A Novel

4.5 39
by Jeanne Ray

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A deliciously funny and wickedly sexy novel of love found (finally!) and love threatened (inevitably) by the families who claim to love us best. Romeo Cacciamani and Julie Roseman are rival florists in Boston, whose families have hated each other for as long as anyone can remember (what they can't remember is why). When these two vital, lonely people see each other…  See more details below


A deliciously funny and wickedly sexy novel of love found (finally!) and love threatened (inevitably) by the families who claim to love us best. Romeo Cacciamani and Julie Roseman are rival florists in Boston, whose families have hated each other for as long as anyone can remember (what they can't remember is why). When these two vital, lonely people see each other across a crowded lobby at a small business owners' seminar, an intense attraction blooms that neither tries to squelch. They're not sure what fate has in store for them, but they're not about to let something as silly as a generations-long feud stand in the way of finding out. That is, not until Romeo's octogenarian mother, Julie's meddling ex-husband, and a cast of grown Cacciamani and Roseman children begin to intervene with a passionate hatred that matches their newly found love, stroke for stroke. Think Montagues and Capulets, think wise and witty and thoroughly modern. Julie and Romeo is a love story for the ages. All ages.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"At last, someone has written a love story for and about grown-ups!  And that someone is a marvelous new writer named Jeanne Ray, whose contemporary take on old rivalries, star-crossed passions, and clandestine intrigues charts a fresh, funny, exquisitely plotted tale of, well, Shakespearean proportions. Julie and Romeo is absolutely delicious. A smart, sexy celebration of the timeless nature of romance."
—A. Manette Ansay, author of Vinegar Hill and Midnight Champagne

"Love and desire will not be denied in this lighthearted inversion of a classic story. Filled with the delicate sweetness of fresh flowers and new love, Julie and Romeo is a smart, funny, touching book. Where has Jeanne Ray been hiding all these years?"
—Alison McGhee, author of Shadow Baby

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The first time I heard the name Cacciamani I was five years old. My father said it, and then he spit. The spitting I had seen before. I watched my father spit out his toothpaste into the sink. I had seen him spit once while mowing the lawn when he claimed to have taken in a mouthful of gnats. But this particular spitting, the spitting done in association with the word Cacciamani, was done directly onto the cement floor of the back room of Roseman's, our family's florist shop. That floor, like everything else in my father's world, was kept meticulously clean, nary a leaf hit that floor, and so even as a child I recognized the utter seriousness of his gesture.

"Pigs," my father said, referring not to himself for what he had done to his floor but to the name that had led him to do it.

I wish I could remember the rest of this story, how the Cacciamanis had come up in the first place, but I was five. Fifty-five years later, only the highlights of such childhood memories remain.

Commentators, the people reading their opinions on the news, the people on the op-ed page of the Globe, love to say that hate is a learned thing. Children mimic the appalling racial slurs of their appalling parents, every bitter, contemptible piece of narrow-mindedness is handed down from generation to generation like so much fine family silver. I doubt it is as easy as this, as I know my own two daughters have picked up a few things in this world I will not take responsibility for, but then I think of my father and the small, shimmery pool of his spit on the floor. I hated Cacciamani with all the passionate single-mindedness of a child without even knowing what or who it was. I decided it was a fish. My father, who loved just about everything, was not a fan of fish, and so I assumed the conversation must have gone something like this:

My mother: Howard, I got some nice fresh Cacciamani for dinner tonight.

My Father: Cacciamani! [Spit] Pigs!

For the next several years I imagined pale-fleshed, rubbery bottom feeders, the dreaded Cacciamani, snuffling around blindly at the bottom of Boston Harbor. No doubt my mother intended to fry them and serve them up in a buttery lemon sauce.

When exactly I made the transition from fish to family, from family to rival florists, I don't know (again, remember, this was the distant past). It hardly ruled my life. My path did not cross with the Cacciamanis', and when it did, they had to be pointed out to me like a patch of poison ivy I could have walked right into. We did not go to the same school. Their son went to the idol-worshiping, uniform-wearing Catholic school, while my brother and I attended perfectly normal public school. Their name was rarely spoken and when it was there was a great fanfare of unexplained wrath that I gladly participated in. We were a liberal family, aware of the recent persecution of our people and therefore unlikely to persecute others. As far as I knew, the only prejudice we had was against the Cacciamanis. It didn't extend to other Catholics or all Italians, just those people, those wretched, worthless fish. A prejudice can be a lovely thing to have, which is exactly why so many people have them in the first place. A prejudice is a simplification: Every member of this group is exactly the same and therefore I never have to think about any of them. What a time-saver! Of course, it didn't save me much time because back then there were only three Cacciamanis for me to hate, a father, a mother, and the son. I remember seeing the mother at Haymarket several times on Saturdays. She was beautiful, tall and thin, with black hair and red lips. Still, I thought it was an evil sort of beauty. Then their son grew up, married, and had six children, many of whom married and had children of their own. The Cacciamani clan grew by leaps and bounds and as far as I was concerned the whole lot of them were worthless, a fact that was reinforced when Tony Cacciamani tried to marry my daughter Sandy when they were in high school.

So that was how I came to hate Cacciamanis. Now let me tell you how I stopped. It was five years ago when I came to hate my husband, Mort. Mort ran off with Lila, the thirty-eight-year-old bouquet-grasping bridesmaid he met at a wedding while delivering flowers. Apparently he met her at several weddings. She was practically a professional bridesmaid, many friends, few dates. There went Mort and Lila. After that I knew what it was to really hate someone on your own terms, for your own reasons, which is much more poignant than hating on someone else's behalf. I didn't know I had ceased to carry an axe for the Cacciamanis. There was no conscious moment: I hate Mort and so expunge the record of the Cacciamanis. I simply hadn't thought of them for years. And then one day, while attending a seminar at the downtown Boston Sheraton called "Making Your Small Business Thrive," I practically walked into a man with the name tag romeo cacciamani. I probably would have recognized his face, but I saw the name first. I steeled myself for the great wave of fury that was surely coming. I planted my feet and took a breath, but nothing, not even a twinge. What came instead was this thought: Poor Romeo Cacciamani; his shop must be going bust, too, if he's at this thing.

He tilted his head a little and squinted at me. I think Romeo Cacciamani needed glasses. "Julie Roseman," he said, reading my tag.

And there he was, a nice-looking Italian guy sitting right at sixty. He was wearing pressed khaki pants and a white polo shirt with a sprig of chest hair flourishing at the throat. No gold chains. I was so surprised by my utter lack of hostility that I wanted to laugh. I wanted to shake his hand, and I would have except I had a Styrofoam cup of hot coffee in one hand and several folders of tax spreadsheets and workmen's comp advice in the other. "Romeo Cacciamani," I said with wonder.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Julie and Romeo 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Okay, Shakespeare this is not. Given. This is a fun, light, fast read that takes you on an adventure of two 60- something lovers who must keep their desire for each other a secret due to their families' long-standing grudge. The whole time I was reading this book, it played out in my head like a movie. Barbra Streisand as Julie. Paul Sorvino as Romeo. Kathy Bates as Julie's best friend. Cameron Diaz as Plummy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The characters are incredibly believable, their age, their little imperfections endear you to them. When they find themselves in a tight spot, having to make choices for themselves that may not please certain members of their families, I was rooting for them very early on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Altho it doesn't offer earth-shattering plot or characterization, it brings to life a splendid late-in life romance. Forget what you know of Romeo and Juliet!! This Julie is a strong, independent woman who gets swept off her feet by her Romeo. I highly recommend this book for all who enjoy a romantic read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Romeo and Juliet,' Shakespeare's romantic tragedy, left readers teary-eyed and sad. Jeanne Ray's 'Julie and Romeo,' on the other hand, leaves readers laughing and cheering. While the similarities between the two exist, i.e., family feud, ill-fated love, the outcome proves to be quite different. Julie and Romeo are 60. She is divorced, he is a widower. The wisdom of life has taught them that you can set aside familial differences and not ruin your life. Unlike the bard's tale, it is not the family heads who perpetuate the feud, but rather the children. Fueled by the humorous 'anger' of a 90 year old grandmother, the Cacciamani siblings perpetuate the feud while the Roseman daughters play the 'wronged part' to the max. Just when you think Julie and Romeo don't stand a chance at happiness, the least likely character is exposed as the originator of the feud and the youngest sibling goes about setting things right. Jeanne Ray has spun a charming tale of love the second time around. Romeo seeks to recapture love while Julie is looking for that elusive 'real' love. Their story is both touching and humorous and proves that romance is not only for the young. I eagerly anticipate her next book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a great fun read. the characters are all lovable. Life is somewhat of a fairy tale. If you are a serious person, then lighten up and read this. this reminds me of a romantic comedy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Entertaining, hard to put down. Nothing too cerebral - just fun & feel good :)
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Noticer More than 1 year ago
This is a light read but done extremely well. Would recommend to anyone looking for light read between more serious books or read for just plain enjoyment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written and true to life, this is a wonderful story of love, friendship, and family - and of course the classic feud.
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APayne More than 1 year ago
wholesome fun and will put a smile on your face
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Its a wonderful story and I like the flower images printed on the beginning of each chapter
Guest More than 1 year ago
How interesting to read a fun book about a couple in their 60's falling in love. Upon first beginning this story about a 60-year old Jewish florist, I was picturing her a chubby little gray haired woman. Reading on to find her sitting cross legged on the floor with her grandchildren, having the same feelings of love and lust of a younger woman, it became apparent to me that this woman was the woman of today. This was a very entertaining story, made me laugh as I turned the pages wondering all along how this love affair would finish. Looking forward to 'Eat Cake' and more by this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
many thanks to the reviewer from june,03. I read Julie and romeo in two days, and I read Diamond Promise in five days. I love both stories. I can't say enough how much I enjoy them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An absolute delight. It is a very enjoyable experience to read thru this book. Interesting and likable characters, light and yet hearty, just a great fun.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Intrigued by the title, I discovered 'Julie and Romeo' while attending a writer's conference in San Diego, CA. It is without a doubt one of the best romantic comedies I have read in ages. Nora Ephron move over, Jeanne Ray has arrived. It has all the ingredients of a first-class romantic comedy for the big screen. Can't wait!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wanted an easy fun get right into it book - recommended by someone working at the bookstore - this was such a wonderful book - a don't want to put down and don't want it to end -- can't wait to read more of ray's books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed so much this book... It's very sweet, romantic, and easy to read. I didn't want it to end and it's good to know that there is no age for love!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A funny book with well-developed, likeable characters and a sweet story. Parts are laugh-out-loud funny. I recommend this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our book club chose this book to team up with 'Romeo & Juliet' for our February meeting. Whilst I was reading this book, I was a tad annoyed by it (the characters, their dialogue, etc. - Julie made me crazy with the whole Mort situation). I'm not a cheesy romance kind of girl... After finishing and discussing, it became really 'sweet' in my mind and I'm very glad we read it. I tried to pick up on the matching themes between the two and there are more than you'd think. A great and easy read.