Juliet

( 506 )

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

When Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy, she is told that it will lead her to an old family treasure. Soon she is launched on a winding and perilous journey into the history of her ancestor Giulietta, whose legendary love for a young man named Romeo rocked the foundations of medieval Siena. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families immortalized in Shakespeare’s unforgettable blood feud, she begins to ...

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Juliet (Random House Reader's Circle Deluxe Reading Group Edition): A Novel

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

When Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy, she is told that it will lead her to an old family treasure. Soon she is launched on a winding and perilous journey into the history of her ancestor Giulietta, whose legendary love for a young man named Romeo rocked the foundations of medieval Siena. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families immortalized in Shakespeare’s unforgettable blood feud, she begins to realize that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is the next target. It seems that the only one who can save Julie from her fate is Romeo—but where is he?

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This pleasing labyrinth takes readers back to the medieval Italian tale that inspired Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and then forward into a treasure hunt that will beguile fans of both Dan Brown and Sarah Dunant. A key leads young protagonist Julie on a search deep into her family's history and on the trail of "Juliet's Eyes," wondrous gemstones that ornament of vanished golden statue. Danger and romance await our heroine as she pursues her quest. Adeptly plotted; artfully written.
Publishers Weekly
Fortier bobs and weaves between Shakespearean tragedy and popular romance for a high-flying debut in which American Julie Jacobs travels to Siena in search of her Italian heritage--and possibly an inheritance--only to discover she is descended from 14th-century Giulietta Tomei, whose love for Romeo defied their feuding families and inspired Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Julie's hunt leads her to the families' descendants, still living in Siena, still feuding, and still struggling under the curse of the friar who wished a plague on both their houses. Julie's unraveling of the past is assisted by a Felliniesque contessa and the contessa's handsome nephew, and complicated by mobsters, police, and a mysterious motorcyclist. To understand what happened centuries ago, in the previous generation, and all around her, Julie relies on relics: a painting, a journal, a dagger, a ring. Readers enjoy the additional benefit of antique texts alternating with contemporary narratives, written in the language of modern romance and enlivened by brisk storytelling. Fortier navigates around false clues and twists, resulting in a dense, heavily plotted love story that reads like a Da Vinci Code for the smart modern woman. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Anne Fortier delivers a rollicking quest through the dark alleyways and shimmering hill towns that once inspired Shakespeare's great love story. This book has everything: Juliet and Romeo;  the Italian nobility and the mafia underworld; swashbuckling heroes and spunky heroines; secret documents and hidden treasures; passionate loves and violent vendettas that span the centuries. Juliet is a thrilling debut novel, completely saturated in fascinating history."—Katherine Neville, author of The Fire

"This book is a stunner. Elegantly written in exquisite, vibrant and witty prose that rides well with the clever use of quotes from Shakespeare, it interweaves an astonishing historic take on the tale of the star-crossed lovers with a fast-paced, modern thriller. Every sentence is a joy, every character lives, and medieval and modern Siena are brilliantly evoked. The theme is delightfully original - and the kind of thing you wish you had thought up yourself. The author is to be congratulated on a truly fabulous book that will surely be a resounding success! We will never see Romeo and Juliet in quite the same way again..."—Alison Weir

"Spinning backward and forward from Shakespeare's immortal play, Anne Fortier puts to delicious use all the familiar Romantic motifs alternating with complex contemporary intrigue to weave a multi-layered cloth of stories within stories, where fortunes turn in an instant and every character is a shape shifter. Boldly imagined, brilliantly plotted, beautifully described, Juliet will carry you spellbound until the gripping end. An astonishing achievement."—Susan Vreeland, author of Girl in Hyacinth Blue and Luncheon of the Boating Party

"In her debut novel, Anne Fortier takes a great idea—a young woman discovers she is the descendant of the Juliet who inspired  Shakespeare's play—and executes it thrillingly.  Juliet has it all—history, mystery, and romance.  Ms. Fortier handles the dual plot  lines with mastery, beautifully rendering Siena of the past and  present."—Karen Essex, author of Leonardo’s Swans and Stealing Athena

"A feast of myth, history, and tantalizing indulgences—I was swept away, blown away, and taken for ransom. Anne Fortier breathes new life into the Shakespearean tragedy we thought we knew. I fell in love with Juliet all over again"—Jaime Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

"Ingenious, intriguing, a thrilling story that keeps you turning the pages. This is a wonderfully textured novel of history and imagination that brings Italy, past and present, beautifully to life." —Kate Mosse, author of Labyrinth and Sepulchre

 
“One of those rare novels that have it all. . . I was swept away.”—Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

From the Hardcover edition.

Library Journal
Most readers are familiar with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but not everyone knows that the Bard based his play on an old Italian tale in which the doomed lovers meet and die in the medieval city of Siena. Drawing on this tale, Fortier's historical debut features a plot as complicated as a Shakespearean play. When Julie's aunt dies, she is left with a key to a safe-deposit box in Siena, where her long-dead mother supposedly left a treasure, but finds only old letters and a ragged copy of Romeo and Juliet. She learns she is directly descended from one of the play's warring families, and her mother left clues to find "Juliet's Eyes," gemstones rumored to be embedded in a lost golden statue. As she draws closer to the treasure, she attracts the attention of a handsome beau descended from Romeo's family line as well as that of a group who make the Mafia look like choirboys. VERDICT While the publisher is comparing it to Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale and Sarah Dunant's The Birth of Venus, this entertaining historical thriller is more in line with Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (but much better written!), with its hunt for clues to a secret. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/10; academic and library marketing; multicity author tour; ebook ISBN 978-0-345-51977-1.]—Jamie Kallio, Thomas Ford Memorial Lib., Western Springs, IL
Kirkus Reviews

In Fortier's debut, the rights to which have been sold in 29 territories around the world, a descendant of Juliet goes to Italy to search for her Romeo.

As children, twin sisters Giulietta and Giannozza were sent from Italy to live with their great aunt Rose in Virginia after their parents perished in an auto crash. The children were raised as Julie and Janice Jacobs by Rose and her flamboyant butler Umberto. Now Aunt Rose has died. According to her will, Janice inherits Aunt Rose's entire estate. Giulietta inherits a key to a safe-deposit box in Siena, Italy, accompanied by a letter from her aunt explaining that her mother left a treasure for her which relates to her true identity: Giulietta Tolomei, whose family tree goes all the way back to the original Giulietta and her twin sister Giannozza. The Tolomeis and the Salimbenis were the actual feuding families, from Siena, on whom Shakespeare based the Capulets and Montagues. Once in Siena, Giulietta discovers that the rivalry is still roiling. Alessandro Salimbeni, the handsome policeman who helps her explore her past, is descended from the evil 14th-century nobleman who forced Juliet to marry him after he arranged not only for the murder of her entire family but also for her fiancé Romeo's assassination. Romeo was the scion of the Marescotti clan, a military family often embroiled in the Tolomei/Salimbeni wars. Alternating with the present-day story are chapters set in 1340, presenting a far gorier retelling of Romeo and Juliet's doomed love than Shakespeare imagined. And what of Romeo's present-day counterpart? As Giulietta grows closer to Alessandro, after he deters a thug who has been tailing her, she's on the point of deconstructing the family curse, when Janice shows up, claiming that Aunt Rose's will was a scam serving some nefarious Salimbeni plot. The same dark forces were behind the deaths of their parents, which may have been no accident. And who is Umberto, really?

The promising premise bogs down too often in repetition and excess verbiage.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345516114
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/26/2011
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 217,411
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Fortier
Anne Fortier grew up in Denmark and emigrated to the United States in 2002 to work in film. She co-produced the Emmy-winning documentary Fire and Ice: The Winter War of Finland and Russia and holds a Ph.D. in the history of ideas from Aarhus University, Denmark. The story of Juliet was inspired by Anne Fortier’s mother, who always considered Verona her true home . . . until she discovered Siena.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Alack, alack, what blood is this which stains

The stony entrance of this sepulchre?

It has taken me a while to figure out where to start. You could argue that my story began more than six hundred years ago, with a highway robbery in medieval Tuscany. Or, more recently, with a dance and a kiss at Castello Salimbeni, when my parents met for the first time. But I would never have come to know any of this without the event that changed my life overnight and forced me to travel to Italy in search of the past. That event was the death of my great-aunt Rose.

It took Umberto three days to find me and tell me the sad news. Considering my virtuosity in the art of disappearing, I am amazed he succeeded at all. But then, Umberto always had an uncanny ability to read my mind and predict my movements, and besides, there were only so many Shakespeare summer camps in Virginia.

How long he stood there, watching the theater performance from the back of the room, I do not know. I was backstage as always, too absorbed in the kids, their lines and props to notice anything else around me until the curtain fell. After the dress rehearsal that afternoon, someone had misplaced the vial of poison, and for lack of better, Romeo would have to commit suicide by eating Tic Tacs.

“But they give me heartburn!” the boy had complained, with all the accusatory anxiety of a fourteen-year-old.

“Excellent!” I had said, resisting a motherly urge to adjust the velvet hat on his head. “That’ll help you stay in character.”

Only when the lights came on afterwards, and the kids dragged me onstage to bombard me with gratitude, did I notice the familiar figure looming near the exit, contemplating me through the applause. Stern and statuesque in his dark suit and tie, Umberto stood out like a lone reed of civilization in a primordial swamp. He always had. For as long as I could remember, he had never worn a single piece of clothing that could be considered casual. Khaki shorts and golf shirts, to Umberto, were the garments of men who have no virtues left, not even shame.

Later, when the onslaught of grateful parents subsided and I could finally walk off the stage, I was stopped briefly by the program director, who took me by the shoulders and shook me heartily—he knew me too well to attempt a hug. “Good job with the youngsters, Julie!” he gushed. “I can count on you again next summer, can’t I?”

“Absolutely,” I lied, walking on. “I’ll be around.”

Approaching Umberto at last, I looked in vain for that little happiness at the corner of his eyes that was usually there when he saw me again after some time away. But there was no smile, not even a trace, and I now understood why he had come. Stepping silently into his embrace, I wished I had the power to flip reality upside down like an hourglass, and that life was not a finite affair, but rather a perpetually recurring passage through a little hole in time.

“Don’t cry, principessa,” he said into my hair, “she wouldn’t have liked it. We can’t all live forever. She was eighty-two.”

“I know. But—” I stood back and wiped my eyes. “Was Janice there?”

Umberto’s eyes narrowed as they always did when my twin sister was mentioned. “What do you think?” Only then, up close, did I see that he looked bruised and bitter, as if he had spent the last few nights drinking himself to sleep. But perhaps it had been a natural thing to do. Without Aunt Rose what would become of Umberto? For as long as I could remember, the two of them had been yoked together in a necessary partnership of money and muscle—she had played the withering belle, he the patient butler—and despite their differences, clearly neither of them had ever been willing to attempt life without the other.

The Lincoln was parked discreetly over by the fire pit, and no one saw Umberto placing my old pack in the trunk before opening the back door for me with measured ceremony.

“I want to sit in front. Please?”

He shook his head in disapproval and opened the passenger door instead. “I knew it would all come apart.”

But it had never been Aunt Rose who insisted on the formality. Although Umberto was her employee, she had always treated him like family. The gesture, however, was never returned. Whenever Aunt Rose would invite Umberto to join us at the dinner table, he would merely look at her with bemused forbearance, as if it was an ongoing wonder to him why she kept asking and just somehow didn’t get it. He ate all his meals in the kitchen, always had, always would, and not even the name of sweet Jesus—spoken in rising exasperation—could persuade him to come and sit down with us, even at Thanksgiving.

Aunt Rose used to dismiss Umberto’s peculiarity as a European thing and smoothly segue into a lecture about tyranny, liberty, and independence that would inevitably culminate in her pointing a fork at us and snorting, “and that is why we are not going to Europe on vacation. Especially Italy. End of story.” Personally, I was fairly certain that Umberto preferred to eat alone simply because he considered his own company vastly superior to what we had to offer. There he was, serene in the kitchen, with his opera, his wine, and his perfectly ripened block of Parmesan cheese, while we—Aunt Rose, me, and Janice—bickered and shivered in the drafty dining room. Given the option, I would have lived every minute of every day in the kitchen, too.

As we drove through the dark Shenandoah Valley that night, Umberto told me about Aunt Rose’s last hours. She had died peacefully, in her sleep, after an evening of listening to all her favorite Fred Astaire songs, one crackling record after another. Once the last chord of the last piece had died out, she had stood up and opened the French doors to the garden outside, perhaps wanting to breathe in the honeysuckle one more time. As she stood there, eyes closed, Umberto told me, the long lace curtains had fluttered round her spindly body without a sound, as if she was already a ghost.

“Did I do the right thing?” she had asked, quietly.

“Of course you did,” had been his diplomatic answer.

it was midnight by the time we rolled into Aunt Rose’s driveway. Umberto had already warned me that Janice had arrived from Florida that afternoon with a calculator and a bottle of champagne. That did not, however, explain the second jock-mobile parked right in front of the entrance.

“I sincerely hope,” I said, taking my pack out of the trunk before Umberto could get to it, “that is not the undertaker.” No sooner had I said the words than I winced at my own flippancy. It was completely unlike me to talk like that, and it only ever happened when I came within earshot of my sister.

Casting but a glance at the mystery car, Umberto adjusted his jacket the way one does a bulletproof vest before combat. “I fear there are many kinds of undertaking.”

As soon as we stepped through the front door of the house, I saw what he meant. All the large portraits in the hallway had been taken down and were now standing with their backs to the wall like delinquents before a firing squad. And the Venetian vase that had always stood on the round table beneath the chandelier was already gone.

“Hello?” I yelled, feeling a surge of rage that I had not felt since my last visit. “Anyone still alive?”

My voice echoed through the quiet house, but as soon as the noise died down I heard running feet in the corridor upstairs. Yet despite her guilty rush, Janice had to make her usual slow-motion appearance on the broad staircase, her flimsy summer dress emphasizing her sumptuous curves far better than had she worn nothing at all. Pausing for the world press, she tossed back her long hair with languid self-satisfaction and sent me a supercilious smile before commencing her descent. “Lo and behold,” she observed, her voice sweetly chilled, “the virgitarian has landed.” Only then did I notice the male flavor-of-the-week trailing right behind her, looking as disheveled and bloodshot as one does after time alone with my sister.

“Sorry to disappoint,” I said, dropping my backpack on the floor with a thud. “Can I help you strip the house of valuables, or do you prefer to work alone?”

Janice’s laughter was like a little wind chime on your neighbor’s porch, put there exclusively to annoy you. “This is Archie,” she informed me, in her business-casual way, “he is going to give us twenty grand for all this junk.”

I looked at them both with disgust as they came towards me. “How generous of him. He obviously has a passion for trash.”

Janice shot me an icy glare, but quickly checked herself. She knew very well that I could not care less about her good opinion, and that her anger just amused me.

I was born four minutes before her. No matter what she did, or said, I would always be four minutes older. Even if—in Janice’s own mind—she was the hypersonic hare and I the plodding turtle, we both knew she could run cocky circles around me all she liked, but that she would never actually catch up and close that tiny gap between us.

“Well,” said Archie, eyeing the open door, “I’m gonna take off. Nice to meet you, Julie—it’s Julie, isn’t it? Janice told me all about you—” He laughed nervously. “Keep up the good work! Make peace not love, as they say.”

Janice waved sweetly as Archie walked out, letting the screen door slam behind him. But as soon as he was out of hearing range, her angelic face turned demonic, like a Halloween hologram. “Don’t you dare look at me like that!” she sneered. “I’m trying to make us some money. It’s not as if you’re making any, is it now?”

“But then I don’t have your kind of . . . expenses.” I nodded at her latest upgrades, eminently visible under the clingy dress. “Tell me, Janice, how do they get all that stuff in there? Through the navel?”

“Tell me, Julie,” mimicked Janice. “How does it feel to get nothing stuffed in there? Ever!”

“Excuse me, ladies,” said Umberto, stepping politely between us the way he had done so many times before, “but may I suggest we move this riveting exchange to the library?”

Once we caught up with Janice, she had already draped herself over Aunt Rose’s favorite armchair, a gin and tonic nestling on the foxhunt-motif cushion I had cross-stitched as a senior in high school while my sister had been out on the prowl for upright prey.

“What?” She looked at us with ill-concealed loathing. “You don’t think she left half the booze for me?”

It was vintage Janice to be angling for a fight over someone’s dead body, and I turned my back to her and walked over to the French doors. On the terrace outside, Aunt Rose’s beloved terra-cotta pots sat like a row of mourners, flower heads hanging beyond consolation. It was an unusual sight. Umberto always kept the garden in perfect order, but perhaps he found no pleasure in his work now that his employer and grateful audience was no more.

“I am surprised,” said Janice, swirling her drink, “that you are still here, Birdie. If I were you I would have been in Vegas by now. With the silver.”

Umberto did not reply. He had stopped talking directly to Janice years ago. Instead, he looked at me. “The funeral is tomorrow.”

“I can’t believe,” said Janice, one leg dangling from the armrest, “you planned all that without asking us.”

“It was what she wanted.”

“Anything else we should know?” Janice freed herself from the embrace of the chair and straightened out her dress. “I assume we’re all getting our share? She didn’t fall in love with some weird pet foundation or something, did she?”

“Do you mind?” I croaked, and for a second or two, Janice actually looked chastened. Then she shrugged it off as she always did, and reached once more for the gin bottle.

I did not even bother to look at her as she feigned clumsiness, raising her perfectly groomed eyebrows in astonishment to let us know that she certainly had not intended to pour quite so much. As the sun slowly melted into the horizon, so would Janice soon melt into a chaise longue, leaving the great questions of life for others to answer as long as they kept the liquor coming.

She had been like that for as long as I remembered: insatiable. When we were children, Aunt Rose used to laugh delightedly and exclaim, “That girl, she could eat her way out of a gingerbread prison,” as if Janice’s greediness was something to be proud of. But then, Aunt Rose was at the top of the food chain and had—unlike me—nothing to fear. For as long as I could remember, Janice had been able to sniff out my secret candy no matter where I hid it, and Easter mornings in our family were nasty, brutish, and short. They would inevitably climax with Umberto chastising her for stealing my share of the Easter eggs, and Janice—teeth dripping with chocolate—hissing from underneath her bed that he wasn’t her daddy and couldn’t tell her what to do.

The frustrating thing was that she didn’t look her part. Her skin stubbornly refused to give away its secrets; it was as smooth as the satin icing on a wedding cake, her features as delicately crafted as the little marzipan fruits and flowers in the hands of a master confectioner. Neither gin nor coffee nor shame nor remorse had been able to crack that glazed façade; it was as if she had a perennial spring of life inside her, as if she rose every morning rejuvenated from the well of eternity, not a day older, not an ounce heavier, and still ravenously hungry for the world.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Interviews & Essays

Anne Fortier on JULIET

It all started with my mother, who grew up in Denmark but never felt at home there. As soon as she was out of high school, she ran away to Verona, Italy; from then on, she always considered herself more Italian than Danish. Later, she returned to Denmark; and when I was born we became a little two-person Italian island in the middle of conformist Denmark—everything about my home was Italian, and I spent a lot of time learning Italian and listening to opera with Mom. Needless to say, all my friends thought she was rather eccentric. When we went on vacation, we would always go to Verona, and we would always have to visit Juliet's balcony and grave—it was tradition. One of my greatest treasures was a little plastic statuette with Romeo and Juliet. Tacky, but hey, I didn't care.

I began writing when I was 11 (I sent my first manuscript to a Danish publisher at age 13—that makes me shiver, actually), and whenever I had a chance, I would sit in a corner of my room and write. I was an awkward late-bloomer (very much like Julie in JULIET) who never had boyfriends except the ones I created for myself on the typewriter. I suppose it was lonely growing up alone with Mom; and that was my good fortune, for it left me hours and hours to read and write. Mom always encouraged me to do that instead of helping with the dishes at night, saying, "anybody can do the dishes, but not anybody can write."

After a while, Mom started her own business and didn't have time to travel; I went to university and became busy with classes and exams. But several years later I moved to the U.S. and Mom retired. She started traveling again, and this time she didn't just want to go back to Verona; she wanted to explore something new. So she ended up in Siena in Tuscany, and she fell in love with the place. The first time I met her there, I was completely swept away by the medieval atmosphere. One evening, Mom said, "So, what are you going to write next?" When I didn't reply right away, she looked at me in that special way of hers and said, "Did you know that the first version of Romeo and Juliet was set here in Siena?" I still remember that moment.

From then on, I started researching Siena history and the genealogy of the Romeo and Juliet story. It was a fantastic project, because it was something Mom and I could do together, despite living so far apart. I would be in the U.S., working in film and shaping my narrative, while she explored Siena, going to archives, visiting museums, talking to people—basically serving as my "eyes" on the ground. I would email her lists of things I would like her to check out, and she would sneak into banks and other locations and draw plans of the buildings. Amazingly, I have only been to Siena once since that first visit . . . everything else is based on Mom's eyewitness accounts, drawings, and hundreds and hundreds of photos.

Obviously, I dedicated JULIET to her!

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 506 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 507 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A refreshing and lovely version of a classic tragedy.

    The tragic story of Romeo and Juliet is a beast you don't mess with; star-crossed lovers are untouchable in my book. By reinventing this well-known plot, Anne Fortier took a risk; a calculated-check the wind direction and temperature, analyze the audience and market-risk. Thankfully it paid off.

    In a maneuver comparable to Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, Fortier retells a well-known story by delicately narrating two distinct plots: present day Julie Jacobs, hunting down a mysterious treasure armed with nothing but a cryptic letter from her dead aunt; and Giulietta Tolomei as she falls for the devilishly handsome, charming, and romantic Romeo Marescotti in 1340 Siena, Italy. Set amongst lush and fragrant vineyards and crumbling ruins, these two women, centuries apart, are somehow linked and it's up to Julie to set the record straight. Was Shakespeare's tale really what transpired so many hundreds of years ago?

    Reading two plots with several characters with the same names (lots of Tolomeis, Salimbenis, and Marescottis throughout) can be a little confusing at times (especially when those characters may not be who they say they are). But pushing on, the reader is rewarded with an enthralling and richly detailed story arc. Drifting from the romantic to the tragic to the thrilling, the idea of Juliet is wonderful. My one disappointment was that the 1340 storyline of Giulietta and Romeo ended too swiftly, I didn't feel it was given appropriate time and attention. With such a well-known event and characters being used, I wish there'd been a more dramatic conclusion.

    Reading Juliet made me woozy with heady romance; the fourteenth-century kind with flowing dresses and balconies and poetry. In short, it made me desperate to read Romeo and Juliet, or at least watch the movie. The ache of their tragedy seeped through Fortier's words to pierce my heart with sadness. Overall, it was a beautiful and refreshing story, not entirely perfect, but lovely regardless.

    15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 20, 2010

    Not what I expected

    I may be alone in my assessment of this book, but I was thoroughly disappointed. Hearing it was a feminine "Da Vinci Code", and reading the synopsis, I was intrigued, and yet from the get go, I felt let down. In the very beginning, our heroine Juliet/Julie/Giulietta, states that her identify is an anti-war activist with no real aims or goals in life. She is not truly anti-war, she is simply pacifist by some magical hereditary desire to end the conflict between warring families. She never does anything with her life because she plans on inheriting her rich Aunt's money. She is not passionate. The author never clearly develops her character or the story beyond a tale of reincarnation through rather confusing means. She never displays any sparks of intelligence, wit, strength, or other notable characteristic which would make her a heroine. Other people solve the riddles to the story, the bad guys are underdeveloped mafia hit men, and Julie/Julie/Guiletta has weird jealousy issues with her twin sister and is the epitome of the helpless damsel in distress who wins the man with little effort. I am sorry, but I am a big believer that a heroine of a novel can do better than be a hood ornament. I grew up in the era of Mulan, not Sleeping Beauty. If I had saved the receipt for this book, I would have returned it and got my $29.00 back. I am not saying the Da Vinci Code was world class literature to last the ages, but "Juliet" is not either. If you are looking for women of depth such as The of Mists of Avalon, or Memoirs of a Geisha, do not look here.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I enjoyed every beautifully written page!

    After the death of her Great Aunt, Julie's world is turned upside down. Aunt Rose raised Julie and her twin sister, Janice, since they were three years old and survived the car crash that killed their parents. Now, more than twenty years later, Julie still doesn't know much about her family, except that her mother was American and her father was Italian and that they both died near the city of Siena. Aunt Rose leaves her estate to Janice and gives Julie nothing but the key to a safe-deposit box. She's intrigued, however, by the chance to find out more about her own heritage. She jumps on a plane to Siena and quickly discovers that her real name is not Julie Jacobs, but Giulietta Tolomei, and that she is a descendent from the Giulietta Tolomei who was the inspiration for the character of Juliet in Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET! The clues left behind by her mother lead Julie to search out the crux of the family feud between the Tolomeis and Salimbenis in modern day Siena, and to delve deeper into the origins of the Shakespearean play. The novel switches between modern day events from Julie's first-person narration the events surrounding the tale of Romeo and Giulietta. As Julie reads the documents left for her by her mother, she discovers alarming facts; for example, that Romeo and Giulietta were not from feuding families, and that a third man stepped in and caused the trouble and in her quest for the truth of her background might put her in danger. A really terrific read! I enjoyed every beautifully written page!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    INTRIGUING - AN AUSPICIOUS REVIEW

    Actress, director, and teacher Cassandra Campbell presents an artful narration of this story of a young woman who discovers much from a long buried past. Campbell's voice is fresh, articulate, and a pleasure to hear. She speaks as if she is telling her story directly to the listener, almost in the form of a confidence - very effective. She has done numerous books on tape, documentaries, and commercials in both Italian and English. Today in addition to her acting and voice work she is on the faculty of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

    Julie and Janice are twins, although very different - Julie being sweet, demure, rather quiet while Janice is outspoken, a bit strident. When their elderly Aunt Rose dies Janice receives the bulk of her estate and Julie must make do with a letter from her late mother telling her to go to Italy where she will make a wonderful discovery. Seems mother thought Julie was descended from Giulietta Tolomei - yes the Juliet of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet who lived in the 14th century.

    So, although she's a bit leery of this whole situation Julie goes to Italy. Once in Sienna she discovers a box holding among other things the story of Giulietta Tolomei and Romeo Marescotti. As we know, these were actual historical figures upon whom Shakespeare based his story. Was Julie's mother's belief that Julie was a descendant of the ill-fated Juliet a possibility? Perhaps so, and that's when the skillful Fortier takes us on a journey segueing between the present and several centuries ago. She does this with both ease and lively dashes of humor.

    As Julie searches for the truth about her family history she meets a cadre of folks including Alessandro, a handsome policeman, and a mysterious figure who pursues her through the streets of Sienna on a motorcycle.

    There's never a dull moment in JULIET, which marks an auspicious debut by Anna Fortier.

    Highly recommended.

    - Gail Cooke

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Words can't describe my feelings for this AMAZING book!!

    Words can not explain what I feel about this amazing story. Anne Fortier instantly captured me and took me on a tilt-a-whirl ride to Italy right beside Julie Jacobs. Anne blended wit with pain and tragedy, suspenseful mystery and intriguing history to a create an excellent romantic mysterious drama.

    Julie Jacobs was fascinating. She was created with flaws and really dug her way into my heart. When she learns of a secret waiting for her in Siena, Italy, the twists of suspense begin. Julie sets out to her birth place, Italy, to the place where Romeo&Juliet took place, to discover what her long deceased mother left her. The intriguing part of the suspense is when Julie's history falls into place and the story takes on deeper meaning, as it switches from present day to a historical place in time. She learns there is that dreadful curse that started way back in history, and falls upon her family today, passed on by her descendants....none other than Guiletta Tolomei- the REAL Juliet, whom Julie was actually named for. And, as Julie is searching out her history, can a man bring out the best in her and be her Romeo? Or is the blasted curse going to cause her true love, just like Romeo and Juliet?

    This beautiful two part book was perfect for laughs and cries. I did both! The secondary characters, like Janice and Umberto, added an extra oomph to the plot, giving it an added meaning. The story is full of everything from history to romance to mystery, and would make the perfect read for any genre lover.

    What was particularly intriguing to me was Anne Fortier's AMAZING research for this novel! It was like she really was there, with the real Romeo&Juliet, seeing it, and then transcribing it to paper. Not only did my emotions run wild with this story, I felt a pull to the historical side of this modern day Romeo&Juliet love story. I could see the gowns and dresses of Juliet and feel the powerful love of Romeo, from all the finely described details that Anne added to the story. The research was just exquisite! As I said above, there are no words to describe my feelings of this truly enchanting story.

    So, please don't delay in grabbing your copy today. It's a book that has genres for everyone. A 5 star rating does not do this novel justice....it needs more like 105 stars. Anne Fortier is superb in her skills and I'm looking forward to more modern day, historically epic novels by her!

    *This book was provided for review by PUYB Promotions*

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2010

    I loved this book!

    A classic tale with a totally new twist, adding the mystery to the story really makes this a GREAT read...I bought the Hardcover book and started it too late in the day and so I literally stayed up half the night unable to put the book down. This is a must read if you like to escape.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2010

    Such a wonderful story!

    This has become one of my favorite books! I love the exchange between time lines. The writing was captivating-I felt as if I was there in Siena. I'm not usually one for romantic novels but the addition of historical information as well as the mystery made this a complete story.
    I intend on re-reading this many times!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A beautiful story

    A wonderful novel filled with secrets (both past and present), romance, adventure, history and wonderful characters that make you want more even after the story ends. This is the story of Julie and Alessandro and their stormy attraction for each other, brought together by their family's history and the suspense and mystery of the 1340 (pre-Shakespeare) tale of Romeo and Juliet. This was Anne Fortier's first novel and hopefully it was the first of many.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Interesting, exciting plot!

    Aunt Rose had raised Julie and her twin sister, Janice, since they were three years old tots and having survived a car crash that killed both of their parents. Aunt Rose dies about twenty years later and shockingly leaves the entire estate to Janice, and gives Julie nothing but the key to a Sienese safe-deposit box. Julie sets out on a quest to Siena, Italy to retrace her Ancestry. She soon discovers that she is a direct descendant of Giulietta Tomei, the inspiration for Shakespeare's Juliet. This novel is a wonderful story with an interesting, exciting plot that you won't regret reading!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Juliet is an engaging modernization of the classic play

    Following the death of her Great Aunt Rose who raised her and her twin sister Janice, the will left twentyish Julie with nothing; all went to her sibling. Heartbroken, a stranger Umberto gives Julie Jacobs a safety deposit box key. Inside allegedly is a treasure her late mom left to Julie. Curious, Julie travels to the bank in Siena, Italy where she opens the box.

    What she finds confuses Julie as the contents are a battered copy of Romeo and Juliet and letters. However, as she reads the correspondence, Julie learns she is a direct descendent of a member of one of the feuding families, fourteenth Giulietta Tomei, whose love for Romeo Marescotti inspired the Bard to write Romeo and Juliet. Additionally her mom left her clues to find the treasure of "Juliet's Eyes"; precious gems supposedly implanted in a golden statue. As she investigates, she meets her kin and the descendents of Romeo; still feuding after all these centuries.

    Juliet is an engaging modernization of the classic play using terrific historical references from the fourteenth century to anchor the original still going strong blood feud. The story line is fast-paced as Julie, supported by Janice, follows the clues to the real gems of the heart though she distrusts Alessandro who has her falling in love with him. Ironically though Julie is the star, the fourteenth century cast is deeper as the pure blood feud seems more genuine with it difficult to accept the blood has not been watered down after six plus centuries. Still readers will fully relish this historical-contemporary amateur sleuth romance as the Romeo and Juliet curse remains powerful in modern day Siena.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Candace Cunard for TeensReadToo.com

    After the death of her great-aunt, Julie's world is turned upside down. Aunt Rose had raised Julie and her twin sister, Janice, since they were three years old and survived a car crash that killed both of their parents. Now, more than twenty years later, Julie still doesn't know much about her family, except that her mother was American and her father Italian, and that they both died near the city of Siena. So when Aunt Rose leaves the entire monetary value of her estate to Janice, and gives Julie nothing but the key to a Sienese safe-deposit box, Julie is horrified at such an unequal distribution of her aunt's fortune, but also intrigued by this chance to find out more about her own heritage. With nothing left to lose, she hops a plane to Siena and sets to work uncovering the mystery that her mother had been at work on when she died.

    Julie quickly discovers that her real name is not Julie Jacobs, but Giulietta Tolomei, and that, if her mother's theories were correct, she is descended in the female line from the Giulietta Tolomei who was the inspiration for the character of Juliet in Shakespeare's ROMEO & JULIET - a story, she discovers, that was originally set, not in Verona, but in Siena. The clues left behind by her mother lead Julie to uncover the remains of the family feud between the Tolomeis and Salimbenis in modern-day Siena, and to delve deeper into the origins of the Shakespearean play that Julie already knows by heart.

    The novel switches between presenting modern-day events from Julie's first-person point of view and narrating the events surrounding the original medieval tale of Romeo and Giulietta. As Julie reads the documents left for her by her mother, she discovers alarming facts - for example, that Romeo and Giulietta were not from feuding families, but that a third man stepped in and caused all of the trouble - and begins to ask questions that might put her in danger if heard by the wrong people.

    Without a doubt, my favorite parts of the book were when Fortier described modern-day Siena. I've traveled in Italy before (though not to Siena), and her depiction of a city so steeped in history and so connected to its own past both rang true from my experiences of other cities and made me want to visit Siena. I enjoyed Julie's first-person segments of the narrative more than the flashback tale of the original Romeo and Giulietta, where Fortier's attempt to use more time-appropriate language resulted in a strange mishmash of medieval and modern phrasing. I felt much more strongly for the characters in the present of the story than for Fortier's recast Romeo and Giulietta (though I must admit that I never really liked Shakespeare's version, either).

    The plot twists and turns itself into an impressive labyrinthine structure, but if you're not paying attention, it's possible to get lost. For this reason, I'd recommend this book primarily to readers who've already encountered ROMEO & JULIET, and particularly to those who enjoyed the story but aren't afraid to see it rewritten in some thought-provoking ways.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The past meets the present in Juliet

    I really jumped at the chance to review this historical fiction because the entire package (the title, synopsis and the book cover) was really appealing to me. And I have to admit, I did enjoy the story. Who knew that I would begin to have an appreciation (whether it is a negative or positive one will have to be put aside for another rant.I mean discussion) for Shakespeare. In Juliet, Ann Fortier seeks to bring some truth to one of Shakespeare most popular plays Romeo and Juliet while wrapping in it modern day romance and suspense.

    This story intertwines with Julie Jacobs in the present and Giulietta Tolomie (Juliet) in 1340. The former is the descendant of the real life version of Juliet and is thus thrust into a mystery and a curse that surrounds this famous couple. The tactic of meshing the past with the present and vice versa made it really difficult to put this book down. I think it really helped to create a sort of natural suspense for the reader since both periods are juxtaposed and so the only way for you to find out what happens to one character in one particular period is to first read about the other character.

    The author also recreates Siena so vividly that it makes you want to go live there. The architecture, the people, the food and the local parlance are all well described and well represented in Fortier's debut novel. As Fortier states in her Author's Note "While Juliet is a work of fiction, it is steeped in historical fact." This statement is testimony to the level of research that went into this piece. The information did not overwhelm you but instead encouraged you to do your own research into some of the themes that Fortier brings out in the book.

    I was not always convinced of the characters themselves though. Julie at times was inconsistent and her strained relationship with her sister was over exaggerated. I mean how many times do you have to spell it out for the readers.Julie is the antithesis of Janice. I think that the characters who were much more interesting to me were the ones featured in 1340. They had more depth than the modern day ones and were much more exciting to get to know. Readers should also watch out for the plethora of clues that are revealed in the book. Some of them feel unresolved by the time you are finished reading, some of them you forget and some of them are a bit confusing.

    Juliet is romantic and full of suspense and I think that people would forgive its size (its 447 pages long) for the share fact that it's good. Anne Fortier is definitely an author to watch and I look forward to reading more from her.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2011

    Highly Recommended book!

    This novel is so intriguing and beautifully written, I truly could not put it down! It has everything you could want in a book-- mystery,history, comedy, drama, romance, travel-- pretty much as many genres and styles as you can think of. The two stories of two separate women, somehow connected is wonderfully done! There's so much more I can say about it, but rather than spoil it for you, just buy it, you won't be sorry! :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2010

    A Wonderful Read!

    I picked this up on a whim and was willing to give it a try; I was wowed by the fact that this was Anne Fortier's first fiction novel. It is incredibly well written and the background research makes it that much more compelling and real. The unexpected twists in plot coupled with the history of the timeless love story of Romeo and Juliet brings a whole new subgenre to fictional romance.

    A wonderful read. I would recommend it to anyone looking for something new and exciting. Adults and teens alike would fall in love with it!

    Bravo Ms. Fortier! I look forward to the next novel...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2010

    Not recemmended for true christians

    I loved this book until I came to passages that true christians avoid. It includes a young woman possessed by a dead Friar's spirit and a staged exorcism of a ring. I cannot recommend it based on the bible's council to avoid these things.

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2010

    my new favorite book

    Really great story. I could not put it down! I completely got swept away to 1342. Thank you Anne

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2010

    LOVED IT!!

    This book just keeps getting better and better as the characters develop and the story unfolds. I hated for it to end and I look forward to more great stuff from this writer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2010

    LOVED IT!!

    Anyone who loves romance, this book is for you!! What a way to re-vamp the most romantic story of all-time, Romeo and Juliet. This author nailed it!! Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. Can't wait to read more from Anne Fortier!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2010

    Juliet

    Julie Jacobs and her twin sister Janice were raised by their Aunt Rose in America after the death of their parents in Italy. After Aunt Rose's death, Julie is left a letter, while Janice gets the house, par for the course in their tempestuous twin world. Julie's letter directs her to Siena, Italy where the mystery of their parents' life work intersects with what is the historical origin of the original Romeo and Juliet tale. I find family genealogy to be very interesting and in this, Julie learns she and her sister are descended from a set of twins from 1340, Giulietta and Giannozza Tolomei. In both the historical and modern day sections, I really liked Fortier's description of the various districts of Seina and the strong-willed families that populate each area. A couple of the twists seemed a little far reaching near the end, but overall, this was a well-paced, captivating read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2014

    Five stat worthy!!!!!

    Undoubtedly the best book I've ever had the pleasure of reading! I love the back and forth between the past and present, and ADORE Allesandro and Giulietta's love story and the adventure.....Fascinating, heartbreaking, historically accurate and alluring, a book for everyone!

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