What's not to love? It has everything! It is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, so rich in history, and laced withMYSTERY. ROMANCE. HISTORICAL-FICTION.
What's not to love? It has everything! It is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, so rich in history, and laced with mystery and action in every page, that it becomes reminiscent of The DaVinci Code!
This was a difficult book to put down and not devour in one sitting. I struggled to slow my pace and savor each line and page from the very start.
Anne Fortier did a remarkable job in crafting this amazing book! One could tell how much research was done to capture the old and timeless tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet and to successfully infuse it with fictional characters and events that feel as antiquated and believable as the original players.
So the book claims that the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet really happened in the 1340s, and that Romeo and Juliet were real people and that they lived in Siena under the names of Romeo Marescotti and Guilietta Tolomei. Just like Shakespeare's timeless love story, they died of a tragic death and that their love story was doomed from the very beginning. Awesome, right? I just love history, even if it's fictional in nature. Though the book is so rich in history, it is well-paced and the story building is well executed without it feeling overburdened with historical facts. I loved reading about the feuding families in Siena, Italy in the 14th century, about the different families/contradas, the Palio, and about the history of Siena itself and how it has worked its hardest to keep its integrity and to keep the infrastructure well-preserved to this day. Such a romantic setting to have!
And so when we continue on with this book, we find that, the female protagonist, the 25-year old Julie Jacobs, is a descendant of Guilietta Tolomei, the real Juliet. Further in the book, we find that Julie's real name is Guiletta Tolomei. She finds this out after her great-aunt, Rose, who raised her and her twin sister, Janice, left her a letter and a key and nothing else while her sister inherits everything. The letter tells Juliet that her mother, who died when she was 3 years old, left her a most valuable treasure in Siena. With the letter came a key to a safety deposit box to a bank in Siena. Disappointed and feeling cheated, Julie leaves for Siena without telling her twin sister where she was headed. And so the mystery and action begins as Julie finds out who she really is and the history of her family, the Tolomeis. But as she searches for her and her family's identity, and the hidden treasure left by her mother, she finds that her father and mother could have been murdered and that who ever was after her parents were now after her and in search of the treasure. This book has kept me at the edge of my seat at the turn of every page! Mysteries unfolded over and over again! And when you thought you've had the story all figured out, Anne Fortier throws a curve ball at you and throws you back on that roller coaster ride of twists and turns!
And what about that old tale of Romeo and Juliet? Anne's retelling and her sharing of what was found through research of the real Romeo and Juliet was by far a better story that the one retold by Shakespeare. It is definitely more romantic and horribly tragic. The Friar definitely played a bigger part in this retelling than in Shakespeare's. The fictional addition of the curse placed on the Tolomei's and the Salimbeni's (Paris' family in Shakespeare) as well as the sought-out treasure and where it was hidden were such intelligent and creative inventions!
Anne Fortier did an amazing job moving back in time to tell the story of Romeo Marescotti and Guilietta Tolomei in 1340 and return back in the present time to weave the story of Julie Jacobs/21st century Guilietta. The movement of going back and forth and the dialogues were expertly done that I was not confused for once as the POVs changed in time.
As for our present day Romeo and Juliet/Guilietta, I thought Romeo was swoon-worthy. But that Alessandro Salimbeni (Paris' counterpart)was definitely to die for! I almost hoped for him and Juliet to get together and forget about Romeo. Until of course, Maestro Lippi tells Juliet that there is a real Romeo and that he comes to his studio at night to look at the portrait of the original Juliet/Guilietta, do I start to wonder about this present-day-Romeo and how romantic he sounds! Swoon 3x! Lots of twists and turns happens before present-day-Juliet finds her present-day-Romeo and more twists and turns before we finally find out whether theirs have a happy ending or if it is another tragic one like their ancestors.
Anne Fortier's writing was so awe-inspiring and believable! It has compelled me to want to visit Siena and visit all the places mentioned in this book. Her Romeo-and-Juliet has captivated and has definitely inspired me to add this book to my book shelf!
If falling in love with a book is possible, then I'm madly in love with this one! Great debut!
Laugh out loud funny! If you're feeling down in the dumps and just need a book to brighten your day, this will definitely cheer you up! It kept my lonLaugh out loud funny! If you're feeling down in the dumps and just need a book to brighten your day, this will definitely cheer you up! It kept my long drives to and from work very entertaining! Louise Rennison is downright clever! ...more
Another audible I picked up. I was intrigued to get this book as it had plenty of good reviews. I thought it would be another dystopia but it was actuAnother audible I picked up. I was intrigued to get this book as it had plenty of good reviews. I thought it would be another dystopia but it was actually about the world ending as the moon is knocked closer to earth, causing massive natural calamities taking place all over the world. Although it's page after page of death and destruction, Susan Beth Pfeffer kept me wanting to listen more and more just to find out what happens of Alex and his family and if they too would be at death's door or if they would be spared by some miracle. It was very interesting and thought-provoking, always making me wonder what I would have done if I was in Alex's place. I really liked Pfeffer's style of writing as it was very easy to comprehend. But, I probably would not pick up any apocalyptic books from her anytime soon. ...more
Hehehehe...I just finished reading someone else's review of this book and no longer feel dumb in thinking that there was a superfluous of big and foreHehehehe...I just finished reading someone else's review of this book and no longer feel dumb in thinking that there was a superfluous of big and foreign words in this book. I eventually got too lazy to constantly check the dictionary and instead decided to just power read through the paragraphs littered with these magnanimous words. I've read previous books from this author and didn't suffer as much so I thought perhaps the author made an effort to represent the time period (1920s), the characters' status and way of life, as well as the setting of the story (Vienna)and made it necessary to use such words to make the book all the more real and representative of all these factors.
Anyhow, I thought to persevere and finish the book because I truly liked the characters and the plot and wanted to see what becomes of Tessa and Guy. I did enjoy myself despite having to plow through all those words and practiced speed reading as I did so.
I realized that once again Ibbotson wrote using similar themes from her other book, The Countess Below Stairs. Similar in that, first, the heroine once again is of royalty, a young princess who has befallen on bad and hard times being forced to have to work and do jobs beneath her rank. Ibbotson likes to make her heroines or princesses petite and slender, with long flowing hair and always, always 'small chested'. (laughs). But their most admirable trait is always how there's not a mean bone in their body and how they are never ever snobs despite their status. This is true for Tessa, the princess of Pfaffenstein, who is so irresistable and cute that you just want to be around her and protect her.
The other similar characters in Ibbotson's book is the male protagonist. He is always a few years older than the heroine, a cultured man who has great appreciation for the arts or music, and is always well off, and always daft and oblivious of the heroine until the end! That's Guy in this book. His character is also kind and extremely smart in this book. However, like the other male protagonist in Ibbotson's other books, he is always so distracted by the other woman in the story that he becomes oblivious of the female heroine's charms. The 'Other Woman' who is always portrayed as this beautiful goddess but who is actually narcissistic as the only thing she cares about is herself and how she has to stay beautiful. And it never fails, once again, this beautiful woman happens to be well-endowed in all the right places.
I must have been full of energy with all the speed reading I was doing that I could not put this book down. I knew it had to be a happy ending as Ibbotson's books have only had happy endings. I needed to read and learn more about the 'star siblings', a concept new to me and with the same leanings of soul mates. Pretty interesting really.
I will probably read more of Ibbotson's books just because I love to read about unrequited love and it being unrequited no longer as it turns into a happily ever after. Although, I will surely be more cautious with regards to the location and time periods from now on to avoid any more over-the-top and dictionary-heeding words!