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Romeo's Ex: Rosaline's Story

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Shakespeare's classic retold from another perspective

Rosaline won't let anyone or anything get in the way of her future as a healer. That is, until she meets Benvolio. Where Romeo's words had been hollow and unfounded, Benvolio's are filled with sincerity and true love. Now Rosaline finds herself caught between her feelings, her ambition, and her family's long-standing feud with the Montagues.

When Romeo turns his affections toward Ros's ...

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Overview

Shakespeare's classic retold from another perspective

Rosaline won't let anyone or anything get in the way of her future as a healer. That is, until she meets Benvolio. Where Romeo's words had been hollow and unfounded, Benvolio's are filled with sincerity and true love. Now Rosaline finds herself caught between her feelings, her ambition, and her family's long-standing feud with the Montagues.

When Romeo turns his affections toward Ros's cousin, Juliet, their relationship brings the feud of the two houses to a new level. Rosaline and Benvolio hatch a plan to bring peace to the two families. But will they succeed?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Dating Hamlet:

“Those familiar with the original Hamlet will most appreciate Fiedler’s imaginative approach, as she pays homage to the Bard with clever cribbing and her own twist on Shakespearean language.” —Publishers Weekly

“Fans of the Bard will applaud this highly imaginative, lyrical text that plays with the story without damaging it.” —School Library Journal

“Even teens with a vague knowledge of the play will enjoy the quotes, references, and sly reversals as well as the Shakespearean drama and commentary.” —Booklist

Publishers Weekly
Having told Hamlet's story from Ophelia's point of view in her Dating Hamlet, Fiedler here cleverly retells Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of 15-year-old Lady Rosaline, Juliet's cousin. Strong and smart Rosaline, who is training to be a healer, catches Romeo's eye when the young Montague brings to her his wounded friend for treatment. But when romantic Romeo meets innocent Juliet at the fateful Capulet costume fete, they are instantly infatuated; despite the fact that "Montagues spit upon Capulets, and Capulets, in turn, hurl stones at Montagues," they secretly marry, which of course leads to terrible tragedy. This is Rosaline's story, but other characters narrate, including kind Benvolio (a Montague), who loves Rosaline, and even her cousin Tybalt, who as a ghost is able to provide narration of scenes just between Romeo and Juliet. There are so many humorous touches in this retelling: the wounded friend whom Romeo first brings to Rosaline is Petruchio, whose name Bard fans will recognize from The Taming of the Shrew, for example. The author shares Shakespeare's love of wordplay; she uses lines from his original text, and waxes memorable lines of her own ("Tis not thou...'tis I," says Rosaline as she rejects Romeo). The author modernizes the message here, too, making Romeo and Juliet's suicides seem more foolish than poetic: When Rosaline hears of Juliet's plan to kill herself, she tells her young cousin that "There is nothing mighty in quitting life"; later she tells a distraught Romeo, "You settled for desire, but did not allow time for love." This novel manages to be both witty and multilayered, leaving readers with plenty to ponder. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Isaacs
Determined to devote her life to healing work in 16th century Verona, Fair Rosaline is surprised to find herself in love with a Montague, Benvolio—a relationship that seems more likely to succeed than that of her more famous cousin Juliet with his cousin, Romeo. This retelling of Shakespeare's play by all the major players features an Elizabethan setting, a spunky modern heroine (who does most of the telling), and an approximation of the language of the time, including lines from the play. Fifteen-year-old Rosaline is an apprentice healer, a determined and capable girl with a soft heart and peace-making instincts. Her advice to her 13-year-old cousin is to take things slowly, advice that goes unheeded as the story plays out and Juliet first rushes off to marriage and then to kill herself. Costumes and the sights and smells of Verona are described in considerable detail. Swordfights alternate with passionate moments. The first-person voices of each player are clearly identifiable. Teen readers familiar with the original are most likely to enjoy the author's updated version, finding humor in the occasional modern touches, like Rosaline's mother noting that girls get little sleep at "sleepovers" and Rosaline contemplating performing a heart transplant. They will recognize the familiar problem of several boys liking the same girl, appreciate the addition of Tybalt's out-of-body experience, and enjoy the bawdy banter, which is quite in keeping with Shakespeare's account. A worthy successor to Fiedler's earlier Dating Hamlet: Ophelia's Story.
VOYA - Angelica Delgado
Picture a very warm spring season in fair Verona, 1595. Most readers are familiar with this setting for Italian teen angst as portrayed by William Shakespeare. Fielder, author of Dating Hamlet: Ophelia's Story (Henry Holt, 2002/VOYA February 2003), puts a unique spin on this famous play and gives Rosaline a chance to tell her own story. Romeo professes his undying affection for the lovely Rosaline, but she finds his words hollow and without meaning. Rosaline fully intends to keep her virtue intact so that she can continue her education as a healer. A chance encounter with Benvolio in a village altercation throws a wrench into her plans. When Romeo turns his attentions to Rosaline's cousin Juliet, Benvolio and Rosaline hatch an ill-fated plan to bring the houses of Capulet and Montague together, only to have the plan disintegrate because of miscommunication and other mishaps. Fielder does an admirable job of preserving the language of this well-known play while making it accessible for modern readers. The prose moves along beautifully, and constant soap opera-esque situations create a fluid, brisk pace that continues to the novel's satisfying conclusion. The author adds some surprising narrative touches, such as a possible homage to Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002/VOYA December 2002) and tongue-in-cheek ribald comments from characters like Romeo and Mercutio. Readers with even a vague recollection of the play should enjoy this delightful work about a spirited, independent heroine.
KLIATT
In essence, Romeo and Juliet is a story about impulsive teenagers, and Fiedler's retelling of the story just emphasizes that aspect. (She has already given us a retelling of Hamlet in Dating Hamlet.) She uses alternate voices: Rosaline, Benvolio, Romeo, Mercutio, Tybalt. In Fiedler's novel, the love story is that of Rosaline and Benvolio, who are onlookers to the tragedy that befalls Romeo and Juliet, and they give their observations on all that happens to those lovers, in effect retelling the classic from their point of view. We like the character of Rosaline, who is more mature than her young cousin Juliet; Ros isn't someone who just waits around for others to make things happen. She is learning how to be a healer and this pursuit is more important to her than any romance. Romeo is seen as a hothead who isn't sure what he wants, and his counterpart, Benvolio, is much more responsible and introspective. Students familiar with the original will enjoy Fiedler's amusing and often moving version of the story. The language she uses is close to the Elizabethan original, and reading Fiedler will help students understand and enjoy Shakespeare's classic. This is a complement to the original but certainly not meant as a replacement. KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2006, Henry Holt, 246p., $16.95.. Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Before Romeo fell in love with Juliet, he was enamored of Rosaline, Juliet's 16-year-old cousin, who vowed never to marry. Then his cousin Benvolio rescues her from being trampled in a Capulet-Montague rumble. Rosaline and Benvolio-both skeptical of love-fall for one another. The Capulets and Montagues continue to have at it, and Romeo, Juliet, and most of their cousins end up dead. For Rosaline and Benvolio, though, it's the beginning. Fielder retells the story in fast-paced prose true to the play, without leaving out a single barb, kiss, or duel. As such, this novel is extremely useful for students struggling with a first reading of Shakespeare's work. The author re-creates period language with some success, though her cutesy, anachronistic winks-Juliet and Rosaline call each other "Roz" and "Jules"-are irritating. While her 16th-century phrasings and semantics seem more flowery than poetic, she illuminates the emotional lives of the characters in a way that poetry may not, especially for younger readers. The mood here is lighter and mercifully less romantic than in the tragic play, as Rosaline and Benvolio fall in deeper, more realistic love than Romeo and Juliet ever did. Though a little wordy for reluctant readers, this novel is an entertaining primer to Shakespeare.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet gets an extreme makeover with a feminist flavor. Set in Verona in 1595, this new take on the tragic tale of doomed young lovers and their feuding families stars Juliet's 160-year-old cousin Rosaline and Romeo's kinsman Benvolio. The liberated Rosaline vows to remain chaste to pursue a career as a healer. However, when Romeo sees Rosaline, he is instantly besotted. Rosaline readily rebuffs Romeo, who "is more in love with love than anything," but soon falls for the kindly Benvolio. Meanwhile, Romeo quickly forgets Rosaline when he meets Juliet, and they rendezvous on her balcony. With Montagues and Capulets slicing and dicing one another on the streets of Verona, Rosaline and Benvolio try to save Romeo and Juliet. In the end, they fall in love and Rosaline is faced with the very modern choice of career or marriage. Deftly drawing on the play's lyric language and heart-wrenching plot, Fiedler fleshes out her own engaging pair of star-crossed lovers, giving the timeless tale enough twists to engross Shakespearean fans and novices alike. (Fiction. 12-18)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805075007
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 9/19/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 910L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.69 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Fiedler is the author of a number of popular young adult novels, and this is her second retelling of a Shakespearean story from the female point of view. She lives in Connecticut with her family.

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Read an Excerpt

ROMEO'S EX

PART ONE

 

 

PROLOGUE

VERONA, ITALY, 1595, SPRING

In a small cottage belonging to the Healer, Lady Rosaline did occupy herself with the business of tidying shelves and cupboards. With great care she arranged the multitude of jars and flagons containing herbal ointments and medicinal liquids.

The Healer was not presently about, having gone off near three hours past, with her satchel, to the home of an elderly man who had come screaming that his grandson's leg had been all but chewed off by a pair of wild dogs. Lady Rosaline did not doubt for a moment that her mentor would find some way to save, if not the child's limb, at least his life. No physician, nor surgeon-barber, nor dentist was more proficient in the art of healing.

Being alone in the Healer's cottage was not unusual for Rosaline. She had been visiting the place since her childhood and had learned much from the wise and gentle woman. There were those who feared the Healer, called her "charlatan," and "witch," but Rosaline understood that the people who shunned her friend were simply ignorant.

For years, the Healer had been her teacher. The old woman felt blessed to share her knowledge with a pupil so intelligent and insightful as Rosaline. More than anything on God's green earth did Lady Rosaline wish to learn the miraculous ways of the healing arts. Indeed, she prayed daily to the Almighty in heaven to grant her the intellect and the tenacity to see it through.

Now Rosaline opened a small jar and sniffed the greasy salve within it—the potent scent stung her blue eyes. "For burns," she said aloud, as though testing herself. "Also useful in treating resistant rashes"—she smiled to herself—"and protecting one's roses from aphids." She replaced the jar and was reaching for another when of a sudden there came an urgent banging upon the door.

"Ho, is anyone within? I beg thee, help us!"

Rosaline rushed to the door and flung it open wide. There on the doorstep stood a handsome young man; he was lit by the soft glow of a torch secured in an iron sconce on the cottage's outer wall. Rosaline knew at once who this gentleman was. He was about her own age, sixteen years. She had seen him before, from a safe distance,of course. Odd, this close he did not look to be the monster about whom she had so long been warned. In fact, he was quite beauteous, e'en as he struggled to support the weight of his wounded companion.

The injured man was some years older and in a sorry state. Unable to stand on his own legs, he leaned heavily against the handsome one. His nose bled, and his left eye was swollen shut.

"Beaten?" asked Rosaline, stepping out into the pool of light cast by the torch.

The unharmed one did not answer her at once. Now that she was visible in the glow of the torchlight, he could only stare at her, somewhat stupidly.

"What hath happened?" she demanded, more loudly. "Was this man beaten?"

"Beaten, aye."

"What is his name?"

"He is Petruchio. Or just Trooch, to his fellows."

Rosaline quickly wound her arm around Petruchio's waist. Together, she and the gentleman dragged him into the cottage. Petruchio's left arm hung limply at an odd and fearsome angle.

"Are you the Healer?" the handsome lord asked as they hauled Petruchio toward a low table near the window and lifted him onto the wooden surface. "Marry, you are so young ..."

Rosaline ignored him as she tore Petruchio's tunic to reveal his bare chest, already crimson and bruising topurple. The gentleman stepped backward to give her room as she began her careful examination, running her hands over Petruchio's torso, pressing ever so slightly here and there. He let out a low groan but remained motionless.

"Broken ribs—three, perhaps four," she pronounced, more to herself than the onlooker.

Now the arm. Rosaline moved fleetly to the other side of the table for a better look. The sight made her gasp! His shoulder had been dislodged from the socket.

"Hand me your dagger," she instructed Petruchio's friend.

The young man's eyebrows arched in horror. "Think you to cut it off, lady?"

Rosaline frowned at the idiocy of the question. "The dagger," she repeated, and her tone brooked no argument. He withdrew the knife and handed it to her.

Rosaline leaned over Petruchio. "My lord," she whispered, willing her voice to be sweet, calm. "My lord, I bid you open your mouth. Just a small bit."

Petruchio's eyes fluttered, his lips parted.

"Excellent, sir. Now, here is your friend's dagger. I would have you clamp your teeth round the handle—firmly, aye. Like that. Very good."

Rosaline closed her eyes and placed her hands gingerly upon the patient's shoulder. She applied only a whisper of pressure at first, prying as gently as she dared.

"Aaaagggghhh ..."

"Bite down, sir. Bite down!"

Rosaline executed her next movement so quickly that the onlooker was not even sure she had acted at all until he heard the noise that followed. 'Twas a roar of profound agony that ripped from Petruchio's lungs as the lady deftly slammed the damaged joint back into its place.

And in the next heartbeat the noise changed to a low hum, a murmur of gratitude and relief Petruchio opened his eyes and sought those of his savior; she gave him a serene smile. With his teeth still gripping the dagger, Petruchio smiled back.

Rosaline stood and collected several small bottles and a clean cloth. "Tell me," she said, addressing her patient's friend, "what villain is responsible for this man's condition? Should we summon the constable?"

The nobleman said, "I think not, lady. 'Twas the constable who did pummel Petruchio."

Rosaline froze, the cloth she would use to clean the abrasions poised above her patient's swollen cheek. "Be this man a criminal?"

"Nay. Poor Trooch here is merely an unfortunate rogue who was caught dallying with a comely wench. As it happens, the wench is the constable's wife."

Rosaline's mouth dropped open in disbelief "Never say thus!"

The young man nodded. "The constable saw fit to punish him for his trespass, not with the letter of the law but with his meaty fists."

For nearly half an hour, Rosaline carefully purified thewounds and applied the healing salves. Then she used long scraps of clean muslin to securely wrap his midsection.

"Tis the best I can do for his ribs," she explained. "They will heal in time."

The gentleman was gazing at her in a way Rosaline found most disconcerting. He said nothing, just stared. Rosaline turned her back to the man, whom she was beginning to suspect was a simpleton. "He should not be moved from here tonight." She began to clear away the bloody pieces of cloth. "Collect him on the morrow, after noon." She peered over her shoulder at Petruchio's friend. "Do you understand?"

"You are exquisitely beautiful."

Rosaline pursed her lips impatiently. "That, sir, is irrelevant."

"Not to me. To me it is most relevant."

Rosaline sighed. "Very well, then. I thank thee for the compliment. Now, you'd best depart so that Pooch ..."

"Trooch."

"So that Trooch may rest." Rosaline gathered the jars of ointment and headed for the cupboard.

"Your name, lady?"

For a moment, Rosaline considered telling him the truth of it—that she was a Capulet. What smooth reply might he have to that? she wondered, smiling. But all she supplied was "I am Rosaline."

The man's eyes seemed to light at the sound of her name. "Magnificent. You shall be hearing from me, Lady Rosaline. You may depend upon it." With that, he turned and took three long strides to the door, where he turned back before stepping out into the warm spring night.

"And if thou art wondering," he said in a silky tone, "the name of the man who hath fallen in love with thee this night ... it is Romeo. Romeo of the house of Montague."

But Rosaline already knew that.

Copyright © 2006 by Lisa Fiedler

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    AMAZING!!!! TOTES ADORBS!!!!!! fantastic twist, benvolio and ros

    AMAZING!!!! TOTES ADORBS!!!!!!
    fantastic twist, benvolio and rosaline are perfect together, ending could have been better though

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Good point of view on the classic story of romeo and juliet.

    This book is a great read for shakespear fans for the language is still there but a lot less challenging. The view on romeo and juliet's characters matched mine completly which was the real reason that i liked this book, they are viewed as very young immature lovers who acted upon the heat of the moment. Plus I enjoyed that they portrayed Rosaline, this minor character in the original story, as a great role model that Juliet should have followed. But it kind of bothered me the way the ending was written and the how some of the other minor characters were portrayed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2008

    A reviewer

    I'd recommend this book to Shakespeare-phobes as much as to fanatics. It follows the tale of Romeo and Juliet with new and different eyes and offers an interesting new perspective on the young lovers. And, of course, there is Rosaline herself. Intelligent, witty, and charming, Rosaline is everything you could hope for in a heroine and then some. The rich Elizabethan language gives the retelling a classic feel. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2008

    lavish

    completely romantic, and a wonderful read. I highly recommend the new twist on the best romance story ever written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2007

    Great

    This book was very good, I dont know much about 'Romeo and Juliet', but that doesnt really matter its romantic and shows stregth in Rosaline and the weakness in Juliet...GREAT

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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