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Juliet's Nurse

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  1,491 ratings  ·  342 reviews
An enthralling new telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet—told from the perspective of Juliet’s nurse.

In Verona, a city ravaged by plague and political rivalries, a mother mourning the death of her day-old infant enters the household of the powerful Cappelletti family to become the wet-nurse to their newborn baby. As she serves her beloved Juliet over the next fourteen
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 23rd 2014 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
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Kyla Belvedere I think to get kids to love Shakespeare, the teacher needs to love Shakespeare. I have only taught a few plays with a few grades. Midsummer Night's Dr…moreI think to get kids to love Shakespeare, the teacher needs to love Shakespeare. I have only taught a few plays with a few grades. Midsummer Night's Dream to mostly grade 9s--although I did it once with my alternative school seniors, who acted it using scripts, and changed it so that Hermia was a lesbian and Lysander another woman, to make sense for them (such a great change, by the way, worked perfect). I've done MacBeth with grade 11s, and it is violent and gory and filled with crazies/super natural/combination. Plus, there are some EXCELLENT films to pair with it, such as Scotland, PA. My seniors often study Hamlet, which again, crazies/supernaturals, but I find the theme of mental health very accessible.

As for R&J, here, it is traditionally taught in 10, although some have seen it as early as grade 8. I think if taught in an interesting way, kids could fall in love with Shakespeare. But, what I would emphasize, and I have rarely taught it, is the complex dirty jokes, the violence, the relevance of the themes--parental control, lust, etc. If it is being taught as a love story, it will fail, because it isn't. Are there themes around love? Of course, but being realistic about the relationship and letting students rip apart how rash and dramatic the characters are being, because, duh, they are teens, the kids love doing that! Plus, there are always current stories in the media that they can compare with.

I had a great teacher for my 9th grade English where I first studied this play (hey, Connie Warrender, if you are reading), and I loved it. We made masks and put on a ball; we hurled insults; we staged scenes; and we related to the characters and their poor decisions while reflecting on our own. I didn't study this play again until my 3rd year of university, and I can honestly say, I got no more out of it then. (less)

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Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The story of Romeo & Juliet's tragic romance is told from the wet-nurse's POV and offers a different (and more tragic) perspective from the over- romanticized tellings from the various movies.

I was hooked from start to finish and believe this is a readers' advisory librarian's dream recommendation--the story is very compelling, the setting of 14th century Verona, Italy, is vivid, the characters are brought to amazing life, and the language is exquisite (how can it not be if it's based on Shakes
Dec 20, 2013 rated it liked it
*** NOTE: This review contains spoilers. Please take heed and proceed at your own risk.

Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I'm not a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet, but Lois Leveen's Juliet's Nurse caught my eye. Many of my favorite reviewers were touched by the author's handling of Shakespeare's classic and many were impressed with her interpretation of his characters, but having read the novel, I can't say I'm in agreement with their admiration. The story prov
Leveen’s second novel imagines a backstory for the Nurse from Romeo and Juliet. As middle age approaches, Angelica and her husband, beekeeper Pietro, are still passionately in love even though they have known much sadness. When their baby daughter, Susanna, dies, she joins their six sons in the local graveyard. “Rich or poor, every loss we suffer is God’s will,” Angelica proclaims, smartly summarizing the medieval viewpoint. Women had no choice over childbearing; rather, “we romp, and we rut, an ...more
Everyone knows the play, “Romeo & Juliet” and how it concludes. Yet, how many stop to imagine how each character came to be in his/her position? Lois Leveen does precisely this re-imagining in, “Juliet’s Nurse”. Leveen’s novel is a sort of prequel to “Romeo & Juliet” envisioning Juliet’s household and childhood years; especially that of her relations with her nurse, Angelica. As one can suspect, this can either make “Juliet’s Nurse” quite riveting or a poor excuse for ‘fan fiction’.

The story of
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
How much do I love Shakespearean re-tellings? Let me count the ways. Unlike Jane Austen retellings that can be all over the place and leave me with very mixed emotions, I've absolutely adored how contemporary authors like Rachel Caine with Prince of Shadows and Susan Fraser Kingwith Lady Macbeth have knocked it out of the park. Lois Leveen is no different and her Juliet's Nurse embodies the very essence of "the Bard's" literary magic.

Leveen's Angelica was the mother of six sons until they all b
Oct 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014
I don't know why I even finished this one, I really don't. There is nothing here that brings anything new or informative to the story. Nothing.
There is a big plot twist about 200 pages in(yes, 200 pages before anything interesting happens) and if you are interested(view spoiler)
Rosemary Atwell
May 10, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a well-written and enjoyable companion to the Shakespeare play with an imaginative but plausible backstory. It's always enjoyable to revisit an old favourite and the shift of focus from the two young lovers to another character gives the well-worn story new life.
Angelica's first person narrative is arresting and arouses the reader's sympathy. Her entrance into the Cappelletti family is quite believable although belief needs to be suspended at times, particularly in the book's final chapt
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Lois Leveen makes her readers feel smart. She is expert at making connections that should be obvious to anyone, if only we had the time, curiosity, and creativity to find them. To Leveen's wonderfully crafted plot, add lovely language and a cast of truly complex characters. A sure bet for fans of Geraldine Brooks.
VERDICT: Stunning historical novel revisiting a Shakespearean play we think we already know all too well, Juliet’s Nurse will captivate its readers by its vibrant presentation of characters and their background story. Brilliant.

full review here:
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway.]

In Juliet's Nurse, Lois Leveen takes on the story of the nurse from Romeo & Juliet. The first half of the book is devoted to the bonding between Angelica, the nurse, and Juliet as a newborn through three-year-old. And if you're going to talk about a wet nurse, there's going to be a lot of talk about breastfeeding. But Angelica is also a bit randy (to put it mildly) and her husband can't get his fill of her often eno
Heather C
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There are so many wonderful things to say about this novel, let’s see if I can get my thoughts in some sort of order here!

Juliet’s Nurse is NOT just a retelling of Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of a side character from Shakespeare’s play. It is so much more bold and rich that that description would imply. Juliet’s Nurse follows the titular character throughout her time in service to the Cappelletti from the day Juliet is born through the days following her death. We find out about her hu
Jenny Kim
I think this is the last time I'll read a book with the concept of taking a notable work of fiction and telling it in another person's point of view, in this case, Juliet's nurse, of Romeo and Juliet.
Fortunately this book is divided into two sections, the first section deals more with Angelica and Pietro, the circumstances of her becoming a wet nurse to Juliet as well as her personal stories, and insight into Cappelletti. Hence, original work by the author. I did find that some part of first
Bonnie Ferrante
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Juliet's nurse was engaging from the very first page. The story is told from the point of view of Juliet's nurse, Angelica, beginning with the rather odd childbirth and subsequent death of her infant girl. Her voice is at times compelling, sensitive, humorous, and profound. She is a character that will stay with you long after you've put the book down.

I don't want to give away too much of the story, but the author has added some twists and turns to Shakespeare's version. They work and they work
Cricket Muse
Rarely is there satisfaction in retellings. And yet I keep reading them. The premise of hearing a familiar story from another perspective is very appealing, which is why I looked forward to Juliet's Nurse. This woman plays a large role in the most famous love story, and yet so little is known about her--her name is mentioned only once in the play. I really wanted to like the book, yet barely finished it.
For one, TMI, for goodness sake. Way too much focus on Nursey's love life, which mainly focu
Amalia Carosella
This was a hard read for me in some ways, and a really EASY read in others --

For starters? Leveen's prose is amazing. So beautiful. Angelica's voice is clear as a bell and so distinct. It's gorgeously written. It's also a unique take on the story of Romeo and Juliet! And Angelica's perspective is just so well done! It felt so natural.

But for me, as a not-very-maternal person, it was difficult for me to fully immerse in her character and struggles. So much of her life and story is (rightly) buil
Cindy H.
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for providing me with an Advanced Readers Copy of Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen.

Below is my unbiased review.

O Lois Leveen, Lois Leveen, wherefore art thou, when I was in high school? If only I had the chance to read Juliet’s Nurse back then, Shakespeare would have been much more digestible! Lois Leveen has written a fascinating and enthralling take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Using the voice of Juliet’s wet nurse as the narrator, the city of Verona
Dec 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Over halfway read, but I'm having a hard time making myself finish this. It just isn't my type of novel.
Dennis Fischman
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
My high school girlfriend once advised me to read historical fiction because it was full of sex and your parents would still approve. This book fits that description--Angelica, the title character, is as lusty as she is in the Shakespeare play--but its merits go far beyond that. Well-imagined and well-researched, it makes the backstory of Romeo and Juliet (including the plague that cut the population of Europe by half, and kept recurring at intervals for centuries) seem more compelling than the ...more
May 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Did not finish. Interesting concept that I was really excited for, but one of the slowest-moving books I've ever read. The nurse is one of the more interesting characters in Romeo and Juliet, but I was really reading for Tybalt, King of Cats, of whom I did not get much. I probably would have been able to get through this book, but I was not into the characterization of the nurse, and her "beloved" husband was a pervy piece of shit. I couldn't stand to read about him.

Maybe I'll pick it up again o
Bella Martinez
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully woven tale of all the in-betweens of Romeo and Juliet. I would definitely recommend for any Shakespeare fans.

Romeo and Juliet is often taught as a love story, but it is so much more. Leveen illustrates beautifully the themes of family, pride, lust, and death, as well as the commonly-attributed theme of love, in this novel.
Megan Webb
While I really enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book, the last bit was very boring.
Aug 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The narrator of this novel is Angelica, Juliet’s nurse. We learn her life story, especially her years in the employ of the Cappelletti family until Juliet’s death.

In Shakespeare’s play, the Nurse is a comic figure, but though she continues to have a bawdy sense of humour in this novel, she is also someone who has experienced hardship and great sorrow. Nothing in the novel contradicts her personality as outlined in the play, but more of her traits are revealed and her motivations for her actions
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
I would give the novel two and a half stars. I loved the concept of the book and I felt the author recreated the environment, of what I would imagine fourteenth century Verona would be like, in descriptions that involved all the senses. The images of bees, hives and honey gathering was lovely.

The first section of the book was very repetitive with endless scenes of the nurse (narrator) making love with her husband, constantly dwelling on the death of her children and nursing Juliet. A first perso
Story Circle Book Reviews
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Lois Leveen has successfully crafted a gripping historical novel with Juliet's Nurse, taking the reader back to 1360, just after the plague has wiped out half the population in Europe. As an RN, I was intrigued with the title and the fictional story behind Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

This novel is primarily about a poor, grief-stricken couple, Angelica and Pietro. I felt Angelica's despair and that of her devoted husband after losing their six sons to the plague, all in less than a week. Thei
Sep 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
Originally posted on The Canon! {}

At 37%, I threw in the towel.

I hate marking books DNF for a few reasons. I'm always wracked with guilt; this is someone's pride and joy, their work, their love. And I've given up on it. Even though I wrote about how I was going to give myself a break on marking books DNF, it's still tricky for me. Juliet's Nurse just didn't do it for me; I didn't feel the magic, the connection. I kept staring at the bottom percentage on t
May 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
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I approached this book with absolutely no expectations, I was curious to see where Leveen would lead me.

I like Angelica, I appreciate her strength after losing her children, her love of Juliet. Her closeness with Pietro. She’s loving, funny, I wish Leveen delved deeper in this woman, so much potential unexplored.

Leveen mastered the setting, the varying classes, the role of females, the brutal aftermath of the plague, family dissension along with medic
Kamryn Koble
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
It hasn’t been long since I read Romeo and Juliet in high school, having a paper towel tube sword thrust in my hand to play it out. It’s fun how reading with uninterested readers can magically suck all life out of one of the funniest and most entertaining playwrights of all time.

One of the main characters in perhaps the most famous play of all time has practically nothing known about her. Throughout Juliet’s Nurse, the glimpse of a crude villager is painted in with brilliant colors, filling her
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Romeo and Juliet from the Nurse's Viewpoint

Angelica, the stout woman who became Juliet's nurse, doesn't realize she's pregnant until her water breaks, and she goes into labor. After a daunting ordeal, the baby is born. Pietro, Angelica's husband, rushes off with the tiny girl to have her baptized, the traditional step for babies that at not expected to live. Angelica is distraught, but Pietro finds her a situation with the Cappelletti as a wet-nurse, and thus she becomes Juliet's nurse lavishing
Cherie M.
Jan 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Fully prepared to dislike this novel, since messing with a classic, especially one of Shakespeare’s works, is problematic at best in my view, I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this book. I thought the historical elements were well-researched, the possibilities about the characters earlier lives plausible, and enjoyed the plot twist that came about two-thirds of the way into the story. The writing was good; not great, but definitely a smooth, quick read.

Zeffirelli’s cinematic version of
Ruth Hill
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I first read the story of "Romeo and Juliet" when I was in junior high, and I studied it in depth in high school. So reading a book about Juliet's nurse sounded rather intriguing. I always loved the character in the story, and this book gave me a look at this often-overlooked woman. I was not sure what to expect, but I can say this book is definitely a modern-day classic.

As I became engrossed in this book, the twists and turns in the well-known story took me by surprise. I wasn't even sure I lik
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Award-winning author Lois Leveen dwells in the spaces where literature and history meet. A confirmed book geek, Lois earned degrees in history and literature from Harvard, the University of Southern California, and UCLA, and taught at UCLA and at Reed College. In addition to her novels JULIET'S NURSE and THE SECRETS OF MARY BOWSER, she has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, the Chicago ...more

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“I know Verona as I do my own body.” 1 likes
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