Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Before there were the Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer, there was the Decameron of Boccaccio. Before Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, there was Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Before the Shrew there was the 14th-century Castillian tale by Don Juan Manuel of a young man married to a fiery woman. Before Romeo and Juliet there was the 1340 true Italian story of Giulietta Tolomei and Romeo in the small Italian town of Siena. In Anne Fortier’s contemporary novel Juliet, 25 year old Julie Jacobs’ life is one of wandering from pillar to post and focusing mostly on working on various small theater productions of Romeo and Juliet. When their aunt Rose who raised them dies, Juliet and her twin Janice learn that Janice inherits her aunt’s entire estate and Juliet receives a key to a lockbox in Siena, Italy that was her mother’s. Aunt Rose’s beloved butler Umberto who is the only “father figure” the girls have ever known, secures Julie a passport in her real name Giulietta Tolomei.

The story weaves back and forth from medieval documents and journals found in the lockbox to Juliet’s acquaintance with a wealthy Italian lady who is a descendant of the family with whom the Tolomei family has feuded for centuries. She also meets the lady’s godson who is a good looking police officer and almost immediately learns that Giulietta is also Julie Jacobs who has been banned from Italy because of a political demonstration several years earlier. Fortier is a master of suspense and taking the reader just to the edge of a major revelation and then jumping to another part of the story.

Along the way Julie / Giuletta is stalked by a terrible looking man, meets her elderly cousin who runs a “family” museum, and learns more about her parents’ lives and deaths. It seems they may not have died in “accidents” – a fire and a car wreck. What was her mother’s obsession with the Romeo and Juliet story? Is there really a treasure to be found? Was it a coincidence that she named her twins Giulietta and Gianozza just as the 14th century twins were named?

This intriguing story will keep the reader fully occupied for several evenings’ readings. According to the author’s website, Juliet has been published in numerous languages in 30 countries around the world.

– Anniesse