Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Real Romeo and Juliet

by Anne Fortier
New York: Ballantine Books, 2010.

*This book was received through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. As per the rules, I receive a free book in return for a review, and whether it's positive or negative has no affect on my receiving books in the future.*

When Julie Jacobs' aunt dies, she received a letter that reveals her name is truly Giulietta Tolomei, a descendant of the real-life families that inspired Romeo and Juliet: the Tolomeis and the Salembenis. Her mother, Diane, had left behind a box with more information for her to find. Leaving her twin sister behind, Julie - or Giulietta - travels to Siena, Italy to follow the clues her mother left behind. She also meets members of the Salembeni, Eva Maria and her godson, Alessandro. As she becomes more and more wrapped up in the story of the previous Giulietta Tolomei and her love, Romeo Marescotti, Julie doesn't know whom to trust or who is telling her the truth.

I was most interested in the historical, literary angle of the book, and the sections set in 1340 worked best for me. The rest was in Julie's voice, and I didn't really connect with her as a narrator, especially in her description of her twin sister, Janice, and their relationship. Fortier's decision to narrate the story in first person also took away some of the tension, since it is very unlikely that the narrator will die. Though a fairly well-paced plot, I never really felt invested in the characters nor did I fully buy the modern-day romance. The narration is sprinkled with similes, some of which were fresh but many of which were unnecessary and only served to make the story feel even more over the top than it already was. A quick and fun summer story.

The book will be for sale on August 17, 2010.

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