Before Juliet Capelletti lie two futures: a traditionally loveless marriage to her father's business partner, or the fulfillment of her poetic dreams, inspired by the great Dante. Unlike her beloved friend Lucrezia, who looks forward to her arranged marriage into the Medici dynasty, Juliet has a wild, romantic imagination that takes flight in the privacy of her bedchamber and on her garden balcony.
Her life and destiny are forever changed when Juliet meets Romeo Monticecco, a soulful young man seeking peace between their warring families. A dreamer himself, Romeo is unstoppable, once he determines to capture the heart of the remarkable woman foretold in his stars.
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|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Robin Maxwell is the national bestselling author of eight novels of historical fiction. She lives in the high desert of California with her husband, yogi Max Thomas.
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I was avoiding my parents, very easy to do in so large and loud a crush of celebrating people, with musicians playing. And I was masked, my feathered face a happy disguise. I caught glimpses of them—my mother, Mona Simonetta, short and plump as a partridge, and Papa, Capello Capelletti, a rangy beanstalk. To confer as they were now doing—looking this way and that, no doubt wondering at my whereabouts—Papa needed bending at the waist and Mama craning her neck to give him an ear.
I sidestepped behind a marble pillar and leaned back, sighing. This night of Lucrezia and Piero's betrothal, one that I wished to celebrate joyfully, was sure to be spent either cat-and-mousing with my parents, or trapped in a corner with Jacopo Strozzi, me pretending his conversation scintillating, his breath sweet, and his manner delightful. And several times this night I had noticed Allessandra Strozzi, dark complexioned and severe in countenance, peering with great intensity into the crowd, probably looking for me.
Rein yourself in, I ordered myself. Jacopo had never been unkind, and Mama said he often asked after my likes and dislikes. He plied me with compliments, though I always felt they would have been the same for any and every other girl in Florence he might be courting. He brought me small gifts—a silver crucifix, jade rosary beads, and a Book of Hours—all, I supposed, to remind me of the pious woman I was expected to be. Well, I told myself, I had best come to grips with my future husband. I must find a way to make the thought of sharing Jacopo's home and bed and bearing his children somehow less revolting. Lucrezia was right. Nothing could be done to change it.
"Cosimo and Contessina de' Medici!" I heard announced as the music died. There was great shuffling of feet and rustling of fine fabric as everyone turned to the front of the ballroom. Guests pulled the masks from their faces in a respectful gesture and fell silent as the smiling Godfather of Florence, his wife on his arm, waved beneficently over the crowd. "Good friends!" he cried, and everyone crowed back at him—"Don Cosimo!" He laughed, delighted at the warmth and fellowship flowing forward and back. "What a day of glad tidings this is," he continued. Now there was hardly a sound that could be heard. "Our son Piero has not only made a match in the beautiful Lucrezia Tornabuoni. He has met his match!"
Everyone roared their approval, and I thought how overbrimming with pride my friend must be, honored by so honorable a man.
Lucrezia and Piero appeared then, he looking darkly handsome and quite elegant in a black velvet tunic piped in silver and, eschewing a dramatic turban, wearing instead a flat cap with a long, upward-curving white feather. Lucrezia, clutching his hand, eyes fastened on her betrothed, glowed with a look that proclaimed, "I am the luckiest girl in the world!"
"May the joining of our two houses, and the heirs that spring fat and healthy from her womb, prove a blessing to Florence," Cosimo intoned, "and all the citizens of the Republic!"
The cheering at that was loud and raucous. I watched as Cosimo gently herded the now shy couple onto the floor that had cleared for them. Musicians struck the first chords of the pima, and Lucrezia and Piero took their poses. At the precise moment they swooped into motion, their gazes locked, and all could see that Cosimo's words were not the empty praise and platitudes of any proud father. These two on the dance floor were something marvelous. Important. Radiating a glorious destiny. And we were the fortunate witnesses.
"Well, there you are," I heard my mother say inches behind my ear, and cringed. I had been caught. "Let me see the mask Lucrezia gifted you."
I turned and, pulling the feathered creation that hung on a ribbon from my waist, dutifully held it up to my face.
"Oh, it is very fine. It must have been expensive."
Through the eyeholes I saw my mother appraising me from foot to head. She fluffed out a slashed sleeve and smoothed my skirt. Then her eyes fell disapprovingly on my bodice. "Much too low," she muttered.
"It is the fashion," I said. "You saw the dress before I left the house."
Undeterred, she took a fine silk handkerchief from her sleeve and began tucking it between my breasts.
"Mother!" I pulled back farther behind the pillar. "Do you wish me to die of embarrassment in the middle of the Medici ballroom?" I wanted to resist her ministrations but knew it would create more of a scene.
"I will not have you meeting your husband-to-be looking like a prostitute."
"Don't be horrible!"
"There, that's better."
I looked down. The pretty curve of my bosom was now concealed under poufs of silk. It looked quite ridiculous.
"Come with me," my mother said.
"May I not even watch my friend dance the first dance with her betrothed?" I was ashamed of the petulance in my voice, but it caused my mother to relent.
"You see where your father is?" She nodded across the room to where he now stood with his future business partner. His face was red and angry.
"Can Papa not enjoy the evening?"
"Not with all the trouble at the factory. The Monticecco… ," she began, but her voice trailed off. "But that is none of our affair. You just meet us over there in a quarter of an hour."
She gave the silk handkerchief another upward tug.
"Will you leave it?" I moaned.
She tottered away on her high platform shoes with an alarming lack of grace. A stiff breeze would have knocked her over.
I made a slow circle around the dance floor behind the crowd. I could see that all the girls and women had their eyes fixed on the happy couple.
Maria Cantorre appeared the saddest. At fourteen she was about to be married to a wealthy Roman wool merchant fifty years her senior. His last wife and every one of his children had died in the plague of 1438, and poor Maria had been chosen among all the marriageable females in Florence for the fertility of her family's women to provide a new parade of heirs for the old man.
Chaterina Valenti, a pretty but dull-witted girl of my age, had just married below her rank, as her father's intemperate business dealings had left her with a pitiful dowry. She was so openly seething with jealousy over Lucrezia's good fortune I was tempted to tap her on the shoulder and advise her to perhaps hide her envy for fear of shaming herself, her husband, and her family.
Constanza Marello, a wisp of a woman with a sharp beaky nose, was the infamous Spinster of Florence. Despite an immense dowry, the Fates had continually mocked her, killing off one after another of Constanza's prospective bridegrooms, so that now, at almost thirty, she was too old to begin childbearing. No one would wish to marry such a woman. I had recently heard gossip that she was headed for a nunnery, her dowry used to endow the holy house of San Lorenzo. If Constanza's family could not raise its worth through her marriage to a wealthy man, it could nevertheless reap spiritual riches and great respect by its generous patronage of the church.
With the final chords of the first dance played out, the virgins of Florence were called to the floor. As we formed a circle, bracelets of tiny cymbals were thrust into our hands. How many times I had joined this roundele I could not count, but as I took the hands of the girls to the left and right of me, I tried to forget it was bound to be my last. It was a joyous dance, very sprightly, with steps and snakelike weaves and swift turns that made the most of a young lady's grace and lightness. Eyes sparkled with promise. Arms raised above our heads, wrists twisted with delicate flicks that jangled our cymbal bracelets in fetching rhythm.
The Virgins' Dance made everyone smile, and as we circled and twirled, I found myself laughing, felt my soul soaring and free from care, as though music—not blood—was coursing through my veins. All around us revelers clapped to the beat that quickened, our feet skipping faster, faster, faster, the cymbals, the drums, CRESCENDO!
We fell together, arms about one another, gasping happily. But there was no respite. Another dance had already begun. The gentlemen joined in now, and the rest of the ladies, too. We were circle-within-circle—the men without, women within. In this way, in the space of a quadernaria, we would come face-to-face with every person of the other sex at the ball, politely touching hands, smiling, nodding, bowing, and turning.
We had danced thus for only a moment before I stood opposite my father. His sour mood had not lightened even a fraction, and I was further assailed by a disapproving look that said, "Why did you not come to me when I called?" I replied with the downcast eyes of a chastised daughter and was much relieved when the stanza moved him on, putting in his place the city's current gonfaloniere, a fat and jolly guildsman who, with a de-lighted belly laugh, gave me an extra twirl that nearly undid the perfect symmetry of the double-circle dance.
Coming back to my place in the circle, I found myself before another friendly face, though this one my age. My father's nephew Marco was a happy, boisterous young man known and loved for his clownishness.
"What's that stuck between your bosoms, good cousin?" he demanded, improvising an extra hop and a spin. As he bowed, he reached out and gave my mother's silk kerchief a tug.
"Marco," I whispered threateningly.
"It looks very silly," he said in a loud voice. "Poufs on your poufs!"
Before I could bean the boy, he had danced away, and to my dismay I now stood before Signor Strozzi. My husband-to-be, clutching my hand with the long, tapering fingers of his own cold, clammy one, was silent and stultifyingly formal. His steps were stiff, as though a pole were lodged in his ano. I nearly laughed aloud at that thought. But what he did next stifled the sound in my throat.
He smiled. Smugly. Possessively. With long yellowing teeth.
I thought I might faint.
Never had I been gladder for a cast-off to a new partner than I was when the stanza changed, and no more delightful a partner could I have wished for. It was our host. Cosimo de' Medici's eyes sparkled so impishly and his feet stepped so lightly that he seemed a much younger man. I suddenly understood why Lucrezia loved him so.
"Ah, Juliet," he said, beaming, "what a joyful occasion. Tell me, is your friend happy?"
I executed the slight swivel of a campegiarre and gazed back at him over my shoulder.
"Only walking on air. How could she feel otherwise?"
With the quadernaria drawing to a close, we made our final bows, but as before, the musicians had barely finished with one tune before striking up another. These were the chords we all recognized as a bassadanza, a slow and stately procession of couples. Everyone took a moment to place their masks on their faces.
Don Cosimo had moved forward to partner with the lady next to me. Suddenly I felt my hand grasped by strong, warm fingers and turned to greet my partner. All I could see of him behind his sleek wolf's mask were his eyes, deep brown and soulful, a firm angled chin, and lush lips.
Facing one another, broken into two lines—men and women—we began the graceful rising and falling motion of the undagiarre, but I found myself quite unnerved.
My partner's eyes would not leave mine.
There I found myself, imprisoned by a stranger's gaze and oddly longing for the moment he would grasp my hand again. His lips parted. Revealed was an even line of pearl white teeth. We came together, palms touching palms, and then he spoke.
" 'Such sweet decorum and such gentle graces attend my lady as she dances.' "
"What did you say?"
We separated again. My mind reeled. The voice itself was rich and mellifluous, a kind of music unto itself. But it was the words that had rocked me. Now I took his arm, and facing front, we promenaded forward, stepped and pivoted, stepped and pivoted.
I could not contain myself, but I kept my voice low as I said, "The line reads, 'Such sweet decorum and such gentle graces attend my lady's greeting as she walks.' "
"Yes, but you are dancing."
"You dare amend Dante?"
"When it suits me," he said, his tone simple and sincere. But I was flummoxed.
"You are outrageous, my lord!" I cried, losing my step and my footing. Then to my horror I stumbled. I saw myself careening into the back of Cosimo's partner, but in the moment before I collapsed the entire procession, those strong hands cinched my waist and gracefully propelled me out of harm's and humiliation's way.
The dance went on without us, and in moments I'd been guided from the ballroom floor down the stairs to the vestibule and into the palazzo's scented garden.
It was torch and moonlit, deserted but for my wolfman and me.
I was strangely light-headed and clearheaded all at once.
"Will you unmask?" he said in a low, husky tone. The way my body felt, he might have uttered, "Will you undress?" I wondered if he knew I ached to see the face that matched that voice.
"Will you?" I whispered.
"For my dancing lady?" he teased. "Anything she pleases."
"Then on the count of three," I said, sounding, I thought, like a mathematics tutor, and, closing my eyes, nodded thrice.
The cool night air tingled my damp cheeks as the mask came off. A vein thumped in my neck. Slowly I raised my eyelids.
He was right before me, having moved closer, this audacious young man, he who took liberties with Dante Alighieri.
Oh, he was beautiful! The hair that flowed to his shoulders was chestnut and thick with waves. The dark windows of his wide-set eyes dared me to enter at my own risk. His cheekbones were broad but finely chiseled, and the nose was straight and perfectly shaped—more Circassian than Italian, I thought.
Then I smiled, thinking, I am no stranger to that mouth. Instantly I quashed the thought.
"Why do you smile that way?" he asked.
I stood speechless, as I did not wish to lie to him. Yet the truth was deeply mortifying. He was a stranger! One whose impudence had made me stumble in the promenade.
"What? Suddenly mute?" he prodded. "Inside, you chastised me. Now you refuse to speak."
"I do not refuse," I finally said. "I simply wish to choose my words more carefully."
"You needn't be careful with me," he said with unexpected gentleness. "I lived with sisters. I'm used to teasing them." Then he went silent, his head tilting slightly, examining my face. He was quiet for a long while.
"Now you're the mute," I accused.
He laughed, and the sound of it fluttered my heart. So sweet was it, I silently determined, that I must make this young man laugh again and again. Those eyes refused to release me from their locked grip. I wished desperately that my mother's handkerchief was not stuffed in my bodice.
The full lips moved and he said softly, " 'I found her so full of natural dignity and admirable bearing she did not seem the daughter of an ordinary man, but rather a god.'"
I was awed at his grasp of our favorite poet, indeed, my favorite of his books—Vita Nuova—and I wished with all desperation to reply in kind, though without revealing my soul too deeply.
"Good sir," I finally said, " 'you speak without the trusted counsel of reason.' "
He was delighted at my choice of quotes.
"Now it is you who is guilty of changing Dante's words," he said, "and, moreover, changing his meaning."
"Not so!" I cried. "I simply chose a phrase, a part of a phrase. One that follows your own in chapter two."
"And what is the rest of that phrase?" he probed, taking half a step closer. We were in dangerous proximity now.
I could hardly breathe. I closed my eyes to recall the words as they stood on the page. " 'And though her image,'; " I recited, ";'which remained constantly with me, was Love's assurance of holding me, it was of such pure quality that never did it permit to be ruled by Love without the trusted counsel of reason.'" I opened my eyes, mortified that I had been the first to speak of that most poignant of emotions.
"You see, you did change the meaning," he insisted. "Dante was saying that in his love for Beatrice he was always blessed by reason." His face fixed itself in a noncommittal expression. "Though when it comes to the love I feel, I might not be so blessed."
I thought I might swoon and had to take a step backward. But with a small smile, the gentleman took one forward.
It was a bold challenge and though he had not touched me, a strong but pleasant shock reverberated through my body. I strove to remain calm.
"Who are you?" I said. "Why do I not know you?"
"I have been in Padua. At university. Before that, I lived with my uncles in Verona for several years." Pain flickered across his features then. "There were many deaths in my family—all my elder brothers, and my sisters…" He shook his head. "The family business here in Florence will one day be mine."
"I lost all my brothers, too," I said.
Both of us looked down at our feet, yet too unfamiliar to share that black misery.
"And your name?" I did ask.
He grinned, then closed his eyes, as though trying to remember a particular line. ";'Names follow from the things they name, as the saying goes.…'" He hesitated and I jumped in, so we spoke together in unison, from chapter thirteen:
";'Names are the consequences of things.' "
We both smiled, utterly pleased with ourselves.
"So I am the consequence of my father's and mother's 'thing'?" I asked.
His laugh was bawdy this time. "I imagine your father would not approve of your speaking of his 'thing'."
"Come, tell me your name," I begged.
"Romeo," he said. "And yours?"
"Ju-li-et. It lies gently on the tongue."
"And your family's name?"
He spun suddenly on his heel and with a flourish bowed low before me.
What matter is my name if my mind has shattered in a thousand pieces and my heart,
where the soul resides, has grown to the size of the sun?
My brow furrowed. "That is not Dante. Or if it is, I cannot place it."
He pressed his lips tightly together, then spoke. "It is my own verse."
"You're a poet!"
"That I would never claim."
"Why? They were pretty words, carefully composed. I had to think a moment. They could have been Dante's."
"You are far too kind, Lady Juliet." His eyes narrowed. "Indeed, I think you mock me."
"No, no! Romeo, I am an honest woman. There is much I cannot claim for myself. But straight talking is one that I proudly do. And when it comes to poetry, sir, I fancy myself of strong and fair opinion. And I tell you your verse was pleasant to the ear."
He sighed happily.
"Here, listen to mine," I said.
Am I mad to judge a man by the shape of his hand,
square and strong, the way he holds my face so tender in his palm.
Warm, enchanted fingertips that magic make upon my soul,
All of that, all of that, in the shape of a hand.
Romeo fixed me with a blank gaze.
"You wrote that?"
"I did. What's wrong with it?"
"Then why do you stand there like a stag just struck by an arrow?"
"Women… ," he began, but could not finish.
"Women do not write poetry?" I finished for him. I bristled, insulted, and started turning away.
"No, please, Juliet!"
He grasped my hand in both of his, not unaware of his presumptuousness. I could not deny that despite my strong words, his touch had, alarmingly, turned me soft inside. Yielding.
"Forgive me. I have never known a woman poet. The verse was…brilliant. And the verse was yours."
"I thought it so. Dante, were he here in this garden, would agree."
I gently released myself from his grip, aware that pulling away was what I wished least to do. "You teased me before," I said, surprised to hear my voice grow low and husky. "You tease me again."
He shook his head. "Who has read your poems?"
"Only my friend Lucrezia."
"Others should read your work."
"Oh no. That would cause a world of unhappiness." I fell silent, suddenly miserable. "My future husband would never approve."
Romeo's features crumpled, and a certain light faded from his eyes. I understood his disappointment.
As much from my own anger at the Fates as his, I lashed out at him with as much sense as a hedgehog. "What, did you not expect a woman of my age to be betrothed? Do I look like a spinster to you? Am I so hideous?"
He was amused at my intemperance, refusing—like a stubborn fish—to take my bait.
"Ah, I see. You test me," he said. "You wish me to versify on the subject of your beauty."
"That was not my intention," I insisted. He nevertheless said:
Her color is the paleness of the pearl
She is the highest nature can achieve
And by her mold all beauty tests itself.
I smiled at the well-chosen lines of our favorite poet. "Ah, she is mollified."
"Not entirely," I said, enjoying the game. "I require one of yours."
"On the spur of the moment?"
"Well, certainly you've written of other ladies' beauty."
He was very quiet and displayed a look of bafflement.
"Come, a winsome young bachelor like yourself…"
"I am not a bachelor. I'm a scholar, only recently come from—"
"Padua, I know. But you have written of love—your heart 'the size of the sun.' Is beauty so hard?"
A slow smile bowed his lips and his eyes swept over my face.
"No, my lady, not when the beauty is that of an angel."
I was growing keenly aware of the sensations this man's near presence was having on my body. I strove to remain serene.
He continued slowly, as the words flowed into his head.
Not when the name evokes a precious stone.
Who is Juliet? How does her smile manage to foretell the rising sun, her eyes the brightest stars in the southern sky?
Who is Juliet, a lady on whose sweetly scented breath ride surprising words that illumine the night and make a poet's heart sing with wonder at his good fortune to know her?
"I am more than satisfied," I said, deeply impressed with his agility and flattered by the sentiment.
"But I am not." He looked unhappy. "Who is your betrothed?"
"My 'nearly betrothed' is Jacopo Strozzi."
Romeo's face paled.
"Do you know him?"
"I know of him."
"What do you know of him?"
My young courtier was growing more uneasy by the moment, the magic vapors surrounding us suddenly evaporating.
"What is it?" I asked.
He remained stubbornly silent.
"I have been honest with you, sir. You must do me the honor likewise. What do you know of Jacopo Strozzi?"
"That he will soon be partners with an enemy of my father."
A sharp breath escaped me. "That enemy's name is Capelletti," I whispered.
"It is. How do you know this?"
"My father is Capello Capelletti." I found myself anguished at speaking the next words. "Our families are at war with one another."
He turned where he stood but did not walk away. I could see his body trembling. My own felt suddenly weak.
"What are you doing in this house?" My voice was urgent. "The Medici bear no more love for the Monticecco than do the Capelletti."
"I came to change that," Romeo said, turning back to me. "These are ancient rivalries, and Don Cosimo is a reasonable man. He claims to want peace in Florence. I sought an audience with him. I was too late to see him before the ball, but I will speak to him before the night is over."
"Ah, Romeo…" Now it was I at a loss for words. I was a girl with knowledge of my father's business with this family. I was not a traitor, yet I felt compelled to say: "Are you so sure this feud is ancient?"
"What do you mean?"
"What do you know of a sunken cargo ship?"
I could say no more. "I must go."
He took my arm in a desperate grip. I looked down at his hand, square and strong, and wished my poem alive—Oh, that Romeo held my face tender in his palm—but I pulled from his grasp, refusing to meet his eye.
Lifting my skirts, I ran from the garden. The palazzo vestibule felt small and stuffy, its pale green marble suddenly sinister in the torchlight. I hurried up the stairs to the ballroom, rear-ranging my face to hide the chaos of feeling and lies.
And not a moment too soon.
My father reared up before me like a jagged mountain peak.
"Where have you been!" he demanded, having to shout above the music and the mass of people dancing.
"I'm sorry, Papa, I felt ill. I went to the garden for a breath of air. I'm better now."
His eyes were in line with the doorway and I thought suddenly that Romeo might enter just behind me—a dangerous coincidence. I took my father's arm and brought him around, facing away from the door, then turned on my girlish charms, those he had always delighted in, in my younger years.
"Did you dance with Mama?" I asked, smiling up at him. "You know how she loves a saltarello."
"No," he growled, unamused, "I was too busy consoling Signor Strozzi, who was unable to find my daughter."
"Well, he mustn't have tried very hard," I answered with a flash of peevishness. "Perhaps a single flight of stairs was too hard on his poor old bandy legs."
"Juliet!" Papa swung me around to face him. His expression was as red and ragged as it had been while he'd talked of his sabotaged business. He did not seem to care that people were staring.
But then neither did I.
His voice was low and threatening. "I am taking you to speak with your betrothed."
"He is not my betrothed yet," was my rebellious retort.
I thought my father's face might explode with his fury, but now he was aware of the scene he was creating in the Medici ballroom, and he reined himself in. His voice remained threatening.
"We will speak of your unruliness later. But now you will begin comporting yourself like the noblewoman you seem to have forgotten you are, and you will make your apologies to Signor Strozzi for your absence. Then you will satisfy him that he has chosen for himself a proper Florentine wife and not some wild, willful child that will bring him nothing but ill fortune in his life. Do you understand?"
As he pulled me around the dance floor's perimeter, I heard him muttering, "This is your mother's fault.… Too permissive… the price of educating a girl…"
I smiled to myself. Too late. Knowledge is inside me. It cannot be unlearned.
Then I was standing before Jacopo Strozzi. He was not, as my father had indicated, waiting with bated breath to see me. Clearly he was straining to hear a conversation being carried on by two bankers nearby about the papal curia's treasury deficit.
"She was dizzy," my father told Jacopo. "Needed some air. Please excuse me." He disappeared into the crowd.
"Good evening, signorina," Jacopo said, hard-pressed to tear himself away from the financial gossip. He forced himself, however, and bowed to me with great formality.
"Good evening, signor," I answered in kind, and curtsied perfunctorily.
"You're looking lovely this evening."
Suddenly he stiffened so sharply at the sight of something behind me that I turned to see what had alarmed him. It was his mother, her eyes fixed on the pair of us with such blatant interest that even I grew uncomfortable. I turned back to Jacopo, taking pity on the poor man.
"A beautiful evening," I said, striving for levity. "The night air was cool. It cleared my head."
"Why did it need clearing?" he asked, forcing himself to recover from the embarrassment.
"Three dances without stopping. I was overheated." I looked down at my gown. "The brocade is a bit heavy."
I caught him staring at my chest and imagined him enchanted with my bosom. But his next words disabused me of the thought.
"That is a rare weave," he said of my dusty rose bodice. "The warp, I would say, is the pink, the woof a soft gray, or perhaps tawny." He seemed to be warming to his subject, his mother forgotten. "Whichever, the effect is soft and elegant." He fixed me with one of his ghastly smiles. "You wear it well, my lady."
"How kind of you to say so," I replied. I searched for any reasonable conversation. "Are brocades your specialty?" I seemed to remember my father had decided to bring the man into his textile business for some talent or another.
But Jacopo's concentration had been drawn elsewhere, as the pair nearby who discussed the curia's holdings mentioned an astonishingly large sum of money.
"And you were saying? Signor Strozzi," I prodded him, annoyed at how tenuous was my hold on the attentions of my future husband.
"I was saying… ?" He became flustered with his complete lapse in memory of our conversation.
"Brocades are your specialty?" I prompted.
"Brocades and wool," he said, composing himself. "Many find wool a dull cloth, but I find it exciting." He spoke the last word with little conviction, but in fact a dull gleam had come into Jacopo's eyes. "It is all in the sheep, you see…"
Just then I saw Romeo enter the room. I struggled to hold my attention on Signor Strozzi, who was now droning on about the grazing habits of English ewes, while I followed the movements of my lithe and handsome young poet as he wove single-mindedly through the crowd toward Cosimo de' Medici.
"Have you noticed that? Lady Juliet?"
"Oh, ah … so sorry. Have I noticed…?"
"That English wool is softer, less scratchy on the skin?"
"You know, I have actually. I own a wine-colored wool gown that feels as smooth as silk."
"My point exactly," he said with what, in this gentleman, must pass for delight. "If you show me that dress, I will be able to tell you the very county in which those sheep grazed."
"Really?" I coughed, covering my mouth, so I could turn away from Jacopo, for Romeo was now standing by Don Cosimo's side, waiting patiently while he spoke to his wife, Contessina. Then she moved away. I coughed again. "Signor Strozzi," I said in a weak voice, "would you be so kind as to pat me on the back?"
"Of course, of course," he said, and complied, though I noticed he took the opportunity to lean in the direction of the two men discussing the pope's finances.
Romeo had succeeded in gaining Don Cosimo's attention. From the Medici's expression I could see his young petitioner had wasted no time getting to his point. The older man's look was grave, but he was nodding his head as Romeo spoke, passion animating his face, his hands—those beautiful hands—expressively slicing and chopping the air before him.
"A few more pats and I will be fine," I said to Jacopo, who was as distracted as I.
Now Don Cosimo was speaking to Romeo, who listened with rapt attention to every syllable uttered. He looked as though he wished to reply, but Cosimo's monologue had become a lecture—one that was, in fact, growing louder so that even across the room, with music still playing, I heard several fragments—"ancient hatreds" and "unlikely reconciliation."
The two had attracted attention to themselves, and now I saw a group of young men pointing to Romeo. A snarling face. A fist raised. He had been recognized—Daniel in the lion's den!
Commotion ensued and as the room erupted, I used the diversion to slip away from Jacopo's ministrations. Romeo was making for the double doors, a gang of noble thugs gaining on him. I darted in from the other side, coming face-to-face with him for the briefest moment—long enough for him to revel in my need to see him.
His smile was brilliant. "The cathedral, noon on Wednesday," he said, then darted away and down the marble stairs.
I planted myself square in the middle of the doorway with an innocent smile on my face. The toughs were forced to stop short to keep from knocking me down. I cried out, as if terrified by the sight of them bearing down on me. They moved to the right and I feinted right. They tried the left and I, with a girlish giggle, moved left, guileless and confused.
By now Romeo had certainly made the street. I curtsied prettily and let the frustrated ruffians pass, satisfied with my impromptu performance.
I sidestepped to a window overlooking the street to claim one more vision of this daring soul, but was greeted by nothing more than sight of his pursuers bursting from the front door and running out into the empty, torchlit street, with futile looks this way and that.
Then all at once a white horse exploded from an alleyway into their midst, scattering the men like a handful of dice thrown on the ground. They loudly cursed the rider.
It was Romeo!
I thrilled as the mount reared up proudly on two legs and crashed down again. Then amid a terrible clattering of hooves on cobble, horse and master sped off into the dark.
I wondered how I could calmly return to Jacopo Strozzi—his grazing ewes and monetary distractions. All my thoughts were of this Monticecco man, so recently a stranger, now a star at the center of my universe. And I wondered at the time and place for the future assignation he had announced—the cathedral at noon on Wednesday. Why the Duomo? And why in broad daylight?
And then I knew. I sighed happily. Romeo. My poet. My friend. Vita Nuova.
A New Life!
What People are Saying About This
"Maxwell delivers a mesmerizing retelling of the famous star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, in her latest novel, set in Italy at the beginning of the Renaissance. Juliet Capelletti is a headstrong, intelligent young lady who is facing an arranged marriage to Jacopo Strozzi, her father's new business partner. She does not look forward to her match but knows that it will make her parents happy. Juliet's entire future is forever changed one night at the engagement party of her best friend, Lucrezia, when she meets the handsome Romeo Monticecco. Romeo is at the party to seek reconciliation between his family and the Capelettis, who have been feuding and retaliating against each other for years.
Juliet and Romeo find a chance to talk together alone under the stars, and their destiny unfolds. Both are surprised by the other's passion for poetry and shared interest in Dante Alighieri's Vita Nuova. After their first meeting, Juliet is determined to find a way out of her upcoming marriage to Jacopo, even though this means defying her family's wishes for her and possibly destroying the business between her father and her betrothed.
What unfolds is a beautiful love story between the soul mates Romeo and Juliet. Maxwell realistically portrays the torment with which Juliet is faced as she wonders what her future holds. The things I enjoyed the most about the novel were how Maxwell drew parallels between Dante and his love, Beatrice, and Romeo and Juliet, and her use of poetry and quotes from Dante throughout the novel. Readers will savor this exquisite and magical love story."
-The Historical Novels Review [Editor's Choice]
"Not many writers would dare to compete with William Shakespeare. But Robin Maxwell pulls it off. Her star-crossed young lovers are just as unforgettable as the Bard's, and now readers get to see what happens off-stage."
-Sharon Kay Penman, New York Times bestselling author of Devil's Brood
"A page-turner that will leave you breathless."
-Lalita Tademy, Oprah's Book Club Pick and New York Times bestselling author of Cane River
"A reigning queen of historical fiction takes on the treasured tale of Romeo and Juliet in a tribute that would make Shakespeare stand up and cheer...I love this book!"
-Michelle Moran, National bestselling author of Cleopatra's Daughter
"Maxwell conjures up an intimate historical re-telling of the timeless classic, evoking the world's most famous lovers with breathtaking passion and literary elegance."
-C.W. Gortner, author of The Last Queen
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This version of Romeo and Juliet is similar to the original in so many ways, but vastly different in others. The basic story is there, but the location (Florence, this time), supporting characters, most names, and overall feel are vastly different. Shakespeare's original is centered upon the meeting and short romance of the two main characters; lovers who try to overcome insurmountable obstacles while we watch from the outside. Robin Maxwell turns it inward, where we get to really know this Romeo and Juliet. She is smart, educated in a time when most women weren't. He is unexpectedly funny, while still being sensitive and romantic. Both are devoted fans of Dante and strive to write lines as beautiful as his. O, Juliet falls into cliche at times, making it superficial when it could have been deep. And even though there were a few cringe inducing changes, overall I enjoyed this book more than I expected to. When you're in the mood for a romance that you know will bring on the tears, this is a good go-to.
O, Juliet is the story of Juliet Capelletti, daughter of a merchant in Florence, who, betrothed to her father¿s partner Jacopo Strozzi, falls in love with Romeo Monticecco, whose family own a rival company. The story is told primarily from the point of view of Juliet, and attempts to follow Shakespeare¿s play.I was so prepared to love this novel, but I simply didn¿t. O Juliet is faithful neither to Shakespeare¿s play, nor is it faithful to the historical story of Romeo and Juliet (and there really were a Romeo and Juliet, who lived in Verona in the early 14th century). Maxwell, for some inexplicable reason, chooses to set her story in 15th century Verona, which really had me scratching my head¿especially when Cosimo de Medici entered the picture, since he doesn¿t seem to add anything to the story.The characters in this novel are not really believable and I found it hard to be empathetic towards them. Juliet comes across as an empty-headed girl, and the author¿s attempts to give her book smarts really didn¿t work for me. I also didn¿t love Romeo¿s character; he seems a bit wishy-washy. And their relationship seemed to be based more on hormones, not the great, abiding love of Shakespeare¿s story. There¿s also the rather buffoonish Strozzi (who¿s never given much of a personality beyond his physical characteristics). Really, did we need to be told over and over how bad his breath is?Bad characters can sometimes be excused, if the plot is any good; but here, it¿s just awful. The author could have created something really awesome if she¿d chosen to focus on the REAL Romeo and Juliet story (not necessarily Shakespeare¿s version). If memory serves me right, in the original story, the Montagues and Capulets were on different sides of the Guelph/ Ghibelline political struggle in Italy in the late Middle Ages. THAT would have been a great story, given the story much more of a sense of conflict. In this novel, however, the main source of tension between the Monticeccos and Capellettis is caused by jealousy and petty rivalry in business. Not all that interesting, in my opinion, and not worthy of the title of "ancient grudge" that Shakespeare mentions in his play (the grudge is centuries old; so old in fact, that nobody remembers when it started. So the fight in this novel between two merchants, both presumably self-made men in early modern Florence, don't exactly have a deep-seated animosity towards one another).As a side note, the writing is atrocious, and the author uses more clichés than I could count. It was a pretty quick, easy read, and not one I¿d particularly recommend. As I¿ve said before, the novel draws heavily from Shakespeare¿s play, and doesn¿t add anything new or insightful to either Romeo or Juliet¿s characters.
How many times can this legendary love story be rewritten and reread, you ask? Well, when the author is Robin Maxwell, you had better rush out and get your copy of O, Juliet, cause this is one historical tale of romance that has just surpassed itself. Magnificent!Robin Maxwell has used her creative talent to spin a story involving historical characters, descriptive scenery, credible location, and poetic literature (Imagine pages filled with excerpts of Dante Alighieri¿s words!). The ultimate passion, culminating in the world¿s greatest love story.Oh Romeo, Romeo¿make room for Juliet! This heroine is bright, educated and can recite rhetoric and poetry better than any man, at a time where women were denied this privilege. In this version, Juliet's best friend is Lucrezia Tornabuoni, who comes from the wealthiest and most respected family of the time. The girls' families are very close and when the daughters' are to be wed, a fabulous double wedding is planned.Everyone except Juliet is thrilled with this. You see, Juliet was already entranced by the rakish Romeo who filled her heart with love, poetry and a lustful more. She had met him at the Medici Ball and from then on it was a myriad of excuses and escapades for the two to continue to meet and nurture their love. Alas, Juliet was betrothed to the devious and elderly Jacopo Strozzi, her father¿s business partner¿and, let¿s not forget- the lovers¿ families had long been feuding¿I absolutely loved this book. Although, I must admit, that at the beginning I was a bit reticent about the location chosen for this story. For me it was almost blasphemous to consider any other possible location other than historical Verona. Yet, Maxwell carved a very convincing re-piecing by tracing it to Tuscany, setting the stage for a possible and credible friendship with the influential family. As a matter of fact, every element of the tale helped create a believable story that no doubt, even Shakespeare would approve of.The thing I enjoyed most about this beautiful story is Juliet herself. I had never before imagined her having any other voice but that of Romeo¿s chosen love. In O, Juliet, our heroine has a mind of her own. She is headstrong and knows what she wants. Her strength and character is felt throughout the book. This was a delightful surprise for me. I commend the author for her talent in capturing Juliet¿s feminine essence in completeness- rendering history all that more appealing to read, especially for today¿s younger women.For fear of diminishing any of its splendors, I kind of hesitate when saying that this, in my view, is a deliciously modern take of the romantic tale we have all read about before. Although everything about it has kept its historical flavor, the story is told with more detailed intrigue, suspense, passion, lust (without getting racy)and, yes, lots of tears! The story moves along at a fast yet tantalizing pace. And without giving anything away- the ending is brilliant. I always wondered about that¿A twist that seals it perfectly. Read it, you¿ll see what I mean.There is no way you can pass up this book. LOVED IT!
O, Juliet is the first novelization of Shakespeare's famous play. Although Robin Maxwell maintained the key plot points, she did modify the location, opting for Florence over Verona. The main characters are much the same, however their last names and circumstances are shaped by the history and feel of Florence. Therefore, the Medici family plays a large roll in the relationship (or lack of) between Romeo and Juliet's families. In addition to the Medicis, Dante is also front and center. The love of his poetry is what brings the two young lovers together.What I enjoyed most about this novel is the romance between Romeo and Juliet. Their stolen moment outside of the Medici palace painted such a wonderful picture of young love. It reminded me of how my husband and I bonded over R.E.M. We could talk about music for hours. Having an obvious impediment also seems to draw young couples together. It makes for a quicker, tighter bond, regardless of how wise the relationship might be in the long run. When you don't think that you can have something or someone makes you want it all the more. You can see very easily how these two characters could get so involved so quickly.I had some difficulty with the change in Romeo and Juliet's last names. They were changed, I presume, due to the different settings to make them authentic to the time and place. For whatever reason, I never grew comfortable enough with Monticecco and Capelletti to stop looking for Montague and Capulet. This didn't prevent me from enjoying the romance, but it did take me out of the story from time to time. Besides, I liked Maxwell's selection of Florence over Verona over all, too. Florence is such a fascinating location and the Medici involvement added so much to the family rivalry.If you are in the mood for romance, I strongly suggest picking up and reading O, Juliet. I loved the way Maxwell retold such a familiar story, adding details and fleshing out scenes. Although I knew the ending to this story before I ever opened, I held out hope in the end. With this love story, I always do. Now, when I think of Romeo and Juliet, I will think of two things: how the young lovers got to know each other in the Monticecco vineyard in this novel and visions of Mr. Sommers, my freshman English teacher, acting out the play his classroom with his wispy white comb-over bobbing up and down on top of his head.
When Juliet Capelletti meets Romeo Monticecco at a masked ball, they instantly fall in love. There's only one problem: the Capelletti and the Monticecco are families at war. Oh, and Juliet's father is already planning to marry her to another man. Does this sound familiar? It should, because it's a retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - the most famous love story of all time.The storyline is basically the same as Shakespeare's but Robin Maxwell has made the story her own by adding some interesting twists and variations; for example she uses 15th century Florence as the setting rather than Verona and has her Romeo and Juliet mixing with real historical figures such as Lucrezia Tornabuoni and Cosimo de' Medici. Also, while the events of Shakespeare's play take place in less than a week, Maxwell's story covers a longer period, making the pace feel more realistic and allowing her to spend more time fleshing out the early stages of Romeo and Juliet's romance and Romeo's attempts to reconcile their feuding families.Although Jacopo Strozzi, the man Juliet is promised to, is a stereotypical villain (cruel and spiteful with yellow teeth and stinking breath), most of the other characters are well drawn. Maxwell's Juliet is the daughter of a wealthy silk merchant and is portrayed as a strong, intelligent woman who enjoys writing her own poetry in the style of her beloved Dante Alighieri. The charming, romantic Romeo, son of an olive grower, is another Dante fan and it¿s their mutual love of the poet that helps to bring them together. Throughout the book Romeo and Juliet frequently quote from Dante, as well as sharing their own poetic efforts with each other. I thought this was a nice touch and the fact that they had a common interest made their relationship more believable, rather than it just being love at first sight.I wish I could say that I loved this book, but I didn't ¿ I thought it was good, without being exceptionally good. As the story started building towards its tragic climax I just didn't feel as emotionally affected by it as I expected to. However, there were plenty of things I did like about the book, for example the way it was structured, with most of the story being told from Juliet¿s viewpoint interspersed with the occasional chapter from Romeo¿s point of view. The fact that the plot unfolds within a real historical setting makes the story feel convincing. I haven't read many books set in Renaissance Italy, so this was another aspect of the book that I enjoyed - the descriptions of Florence are full of detail and imagery. Finally ¿ and I don't normally mention this in my reviews ¿ the front cover is gorgeous! I would recommend O, Juliet to lovers of historical romance or to anyone who is intrigued by the thought of reading a new take on a classic tale.
Inspired and based upon Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but set in Renaissance Florence of 1444 and not Verona, and her Romeo and Juliet are a bit older--Juliet is 18 in this story, and the novel's primary first person narrator. (Some chapters are told by Romeo). Something in Juliet's voice just put me off from the beginning. I think part of the problem is I had just recently read Sarah Dunant's excellent The Birth of Venus, published earlier, and there were several points of similarity, throwing the mediocrity of Maxwell's writing into even greater relief. Dunant's Alessandra wants to be a painter, Maxwell's Juliet a poet. Both tales are in first person from the heroine's point of view, both are set in 15th century Florence, both quote Dante, both heroines are closely connected with the Medici. The thing though, is in reading a lot of historical fiction lately, I've found there are two kinds of authors. Those that are really romance aisle with historic trappings such as Philippa Gregory, Cecilia Holland and Elizabeth Chadwick and those with more of a literary feel such as Sharon Kay Penman, Judith Merkle Riley--and Sarah Dunant. I'd place Maxwell with the first group, and I've been spoiled by the second. I loved the idea of this novel, especially connecting the legend to the Medici, but the voice just can't carry it off. One reviewer called it "campy chicklit" and I think that's accurate unfortunately. Her Juliet sounds neither adolescent nor a woman of her times, the dialogue feels slangy modern, and the prose clunky and full of cliche. And I think making her a more mature teen is a mistake. It's a lot easier to buy that a 14-year old acts the way Juliet does than an 18 year old. Jacopo Strozzi, Juliet's betrothed, is a twirl-the-mustache villain complete with yellow teeth and reeking breath. Nothing in this novel makes me ever want to read this author again.
It sounded promising - a modern retelling of the Romeo/Juliet story with R&J a tad more mature and intelligent, toss in a few historical figures, move the location to the far more interesting Florence - and what did we end up with? A greater appreciation of the Bard¿s story telling (and plot borrowing) abilities.Briefly, Juliet Capelletti must choose between the suitor chosen by her father (rich but oh so repulsive) or the enemy of her clan (soulful and oh so appealing). The premise has promise, but unfortunately it turns into a rather vanilla rendition. And despite the addition of characters and a lengthier exposition (or so it seemed) the story is much the same.Robin Maxwell may well deserve an ¿A¿ for effort, but her execution rates a ¿C¿ at best. Maxwell¿s style is far from lyric and unless the poems `written¿ by the fair Juliet are meant as parody, they would have been better left out. Her banal style and heavy-handed characterizations were for me major flaws. Those who enjoyed Maxwell¿s earlier books may well enjoy this one. By all means, give it a look. But for those, like me, intrigued by the title and plot, take a careful look before you buy. It¿s not historical fiction; it¿s not a romance; it¿s not, heaven knows, Shakespeare. But the cover is nice.
I had just finished a book and looked at the rather tall stack of books on my shelf. What to read?! I picked up O! Juliet half expecting that I would put it down momentarily and select another book because I was not in the mood for a re-read of Shakespeare. I found, however, that I couldn't put the book down.Yes, as others have commented, Strozzi's character is over stated and yes there are far too many references to his yellow teeth and his bad breath - he's the quintessential bad sort of dude. Yes, there is also some rather goofy poetry included in the book. It's a lightweight, easy read with characters who are somewhat predictable I suppose. No prize winning novel and not, perhaps, for those who may, because of the title, think that it will, in any way, compare to Shakespeare. It doesn't. I tend to try not to have expectations when I pick up a book other than I expect to always enjoy my favorite authors. I generally enjoy Robin Maxwell's books and although this was not, in my opinion, up to her usual standards, I found this to be very enjoyable none-the-less. I can't give it four stars because I don't consider it to be exceptional but I can say that my three stars are solid and that this book is worth a try if you're in the mood for a light, easy to read, enjoyable book.
Robin Maxwell's O, Juliet is a refreshing spin on Shakespeare's classic Romeo & Juliet. Despite the similarities between Maxwell's new take on Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, there are also many differences. For instance, instead of taking place in Verona, Maxwell moves the story to Florence. Also, another significant change to the classic is Juliet's betrothed Jacopo Strozzi. Jacopo is a foul smelling, yellow-teeth retch of a man, whereas, Paris was a handsome gentleman who actually had tender feelings towards Juliet. By moving the setting to Florence, Maxwell takes advantage of the significant Medici family, who influenced Florence during the 15th century, in order to incorporate some historical aspects to her version of Romeo & Juliet. Eighteen year old Juliet finds herself trapped in the middle of her father's new business deal with Jacopo Strozzi. Juliet's hand in marriage is her father's way of enticing Jacopo into becoming his business partner in order to keep his silk trade booming. Juliet is repulsed by Jacopo's foul breath, bad manners, and his intimidating mother. She expresses her emotions and feelings through her poetry that is inspired by Dante's work. When Juliet meets Romeo Monticecco, at her friend Lucrezia's masquerade ball, she immediately falls in love with him. They find they have something in common; their love of Dante's poetry. They quote his work to express their feelings towards one another, which brings them even closer. For once in Juliet's life, she has found someone who actually understands and shares her passion for writing and reading poetry, however, this posses two problems. The Capalletti's and the Monticecco's are families at war with one another and Juliet is soon to be betrothed to Jacopo Strozzi. I understand why there are mixed reviews about Maxwell's spin on Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. I personally thought Maxwell's take was enchanting and fresh. In Shakespeare's version, Romeo & Juliet are young and their romance takes place within a week making it less believable. Maxwell's characters are older, more mature, and their romance develops slower over a longer period of time. This allows the characters to become more developed and believable. You really get to know who Romeo & Juliet are as individuals. Unlike Shakespeare's version, you get to witness what Romeo & Juliet are thinking and feeling as their romance develops. Maxwell really made this her own and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Throughout the entire read you are wondering how she is going to end the story. Will she stay true to Shakespeare's tragic ending or will she create a surprising twist and end it with them living happily ever after. You will just have to read and find out!
I began reading this story, thinking I'd read the same thing: Boy meets girl and enchantment ensues with a single glance. I've never been happier to be proved wrong. First off, don't get me wrong, it was enchanting... but also gratefully BELIEVABLE! This was not only a story of two young lovers passionately entrapped by lust, but the love they had - and developed, for crying out loud! - for one another was so blazingly palpable on every page I thought my fingertips would burn. Both poets themselves, Romeo and Juliet were first drawn together by the quoting of Dante, a famous and deceased poet, at her best friend's celebration. Love ensued soon after, but it was more than love at first sight. There was a solid foundation for their attraction, a mutual connection that made their story unfold truly beautifully. Juliet was vivacious and stubbornly strong-willed for a young woman of that era, while Romeo came across as a peacemaker of sorts, cheerful-natured, sweet and unruffled - at least until it came to defending and fiercely loving his fair Juliet. Both, of course, were dreamers of the best sorts. :) The characters were very well developed and the storyline was different than the Romeo and Juliet we are all used to without straying too far from the fundamental nature of Shakespeare's beloved play. An easy read, the words flowed off the pages like poetry - and quoted a bit of poetry as well - without the sometimes confusing old English dialog. I lie in bed last night, trying to sleep, but my mind refused to let go of my favorite scenes, lyrically playing out over and over again in my head. All in all, O! Juliet was a gorgeous read, filled to the brim with ripe romance. If you're looking for a quick read to pass the time and forget soon after, this is not the book for you. If you're looking for a knock-your-socks-off romance with likeable characters that tend to leave little footprints in your heart to remember them by for years to come - if not a lifetime - then get to your local bookstore and read this book now!
What I liked about "O Juliet" was the fact that it took a play that is really more about lust than love and turned it into an actual love story. Both Juliet and Romeo were given more character depth and development and I loved how the chapters alternated between their points of view. This take on the Shakespeare play was very original and very well written. While it did follow the clasic tale, the historical bits were quite interesting and gave the story a new light that it didn't have before.
O'Juliet is a beautifully written novel that transforms the traditional story of Romeo and Juliet into an adventurous whirlwind of love, loss, and deciet. Robin Maxwell does a beautiful job of recreating the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet into her own original plotline with characters that I can only describe as kick ass!!! I never read historical fiction. I usually find them boring and overly descriptive. This book had just the right amount of description to keep a great picture in my without distracting me from the plot. The plot may be a remake of that of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but I can not say how original this book was. This book was action packed and filled with a romance that just felt so sweet and true; not rushed at all. I was just actually expecting a plain old romantic remake of Romeo and Juliet, but this book isn't all about romance. There is betrayal , decit, disgustingly annoying characters, and terrific loveable characters. The perfect blend of drama and passionate love, I coundn't get enough of this book. Juliet Capelletti is a voice to be reckoned with. She is a strong role model who refuses to shrink down to the miniscule vision of women her society thrusts upon her. Throw at her an arranged marriage with a disgusting lying user, and she throws back at you a hidden passionate affair that she refuses to let go of, along with clever schemes to be with the one she loves. No one can stop her!!! Romeo Monticecco, charming poetry writing Romeo. Sometimes I found myself frustrated with how calm he was in his horrid situations, but as softspoken as he was, he always had a plan up his sleeves that suprised Juliet as well as myself. I was sad when this book ended. It seemed like the story could just keep on going and going and I wouldn't get bored with it at all. I loved the ending and everything about it. O' Juliet is one of my new favorite reads. It had so much romance, with equal amounts of drama, beautiful descriptions, strong interesting characters all packed into one book that I refused to put down. This book is based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but it is completely original on its own and I found myself actually forgetting that it is based on that play!!! I Reccomend: this book to all romance lovers. Any kind of romance at all this book will satisfy your cravings and have you begging for more. All lovers of historical fiction and lovers of the play Romeo and Juliet!!! Robin Maxwell does a beautiful job of recreating the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet into her own original plotline with characters that I can only describe as kick ass!!! I never read historical fiction. I usually find them boring and overly descriptive. This book had just the right amount of description to keep a great picture in my without distracting me from the plot. The plot may be a remake of that of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but I can not say how original this book was. This book was action packed and filled with a romance that just felt so sweet and true; not rushed at all. I was just actually expecting a plain old romantic remake of Romeo and Juliet, but this book isn't all about romance. There is betrayal , decit, disgustingly annoying characters, and terrific loveable characters. The perfect blend of drama and passionate love, I coundn't get enough of this book. Juliet Capelletti is a voice to be reckoned with. She is a strong role model who refuses to shrink down to the miniscule vision of women her
This is by far her best book so far. I could not put it down.
In Florence, Italy, Juliet Capelletti is happy that her best friend Lucrezia Tornabuoni is marrying into the Medici family as that is what she wants. On the other hand Juliet wants a Dante to sweep her off her feet rather than an arranged marriage. Her parents Simonetta and Capello have arranged for her to marry her dad's silks and wool business partner Jacopo Strozzi, a member of the second wealthiest family in the city. Juliet detests Strozzi for his odious touching her without regard to her feelings, his yellow teeth, his odor and being sneaky. Strozzi informs Juliet's father that the Monticecco family declared war on them by sinking a cargo of silk and burning down a factory. Although he has no idea why a feud occurred, Capelletti retaliates. Romeo Monticecco tries to bring peace between the families, but matters get worse instead. When he and Juliet meet, they fall in love, but neither family will tolerate a marriage between one of them and a member of the enemy. This is an interesting novelization of the classic play in which Robin Maxwell catches the essence of Romeo and Juliet as well as the political and economic intrigue of Florence that leads to the manipulations, back-stabbing and family feud. Although Strozzi as the devious villain is described as odious a quadrillion times, historical romance fans except for Shakespeare purists will enjoy the retelling; as the Bard receives the Austen-Bronte modern day chutzpah treatment. Harriet Klausner
I had just finished a book and looked at the rather tall stack of books on my shelf. What to read?! I picked up O! Juliet half expecting that I would put it down momentarily and select another book because I was not in the mood for a re-read of Shakespeare. I found, however, that I couldn't put the book down. Yes, as others have commented, Strozzi's character is over stated and yes there are far too many references to his yellow teeth and his bad breath - he's the quintessential bad sort of dude. Yes, there is also some rather goofy poetry included in the book. It's a lightweight, easy read with characters who are somewhat predictable I suppose. No prize winning novel and not, perhaps, for those who may, because of the title, think that it will, in any way, compare to Shakespeare. It doesn't. I tend to try not to have expectations when I pick up a book other than I expect to always enjoy my favorite authors. I generally enjoy Robin Maxwell's books and although this was not, in my opinion, up to her usual standards, I found this to be very enjoyable none-the-less. I can't give it four stars because I don't consider it to be exceptional but I can say that my three stars are solid and that this book is worth a try if you're in the mood for a light, easy to read, enjoyable book.
Well i havent read the book but somethings wrong here-its MONTAGUE aad CAPULET!!!