Friday, February 18, 2011

JULIET by Anne Fortier (✰✰✰✰✰)

This book had it all for me: romance, humor, history, and adventure-all packaged within a fast-paced, tight plot driven by well developed, intriguing characters. Initially, I didn't plan to read this one. The plot, which skips back and forth between Siena, Italy in the 1340s and current time, follows the main character as she researches her ancestral link to the woman believed to have been the central figure in the earliest known, and biographical, story of Romeo and Juliet. Oh, yeah, and did I mention there is a treasure involved? My first thought was, "This will either be very sappy, make a travesty of the Bard, or in the worst case, both". I decided to pass. Then I heard that, once again, the author was going to be joining our book group for our discussion. The library did not have the book, but the audio was available; I was thrilled to see that Giulietta's part was read by Cassandra Campbell, the same excellent narrator who read Skeeter in Kathryn Stockett's The Help. Admittedly, I am not a great fan of romance novels, but there was a great deal more to this one. I also appreciated the fact that there were no trashy scenes in this book; you could let your twelve year old read it with an easy conscience. Both of the parallel stories kept me engaged, and author Anne Fortier deftly pulls off the difficult task of keeping her characters not only in character within themselves, but also appropriate for their given time frame. Giulietta in 1340 is believable as a women for her times, and Giulietta in the present day is a definite modern girl. I was so swept away by the tale itself and thoroughly impressed by the mechanics of this debut novel. It would also make an excellent film, and as Anne Fortier works in the business, I can't help but wonder...

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