Genre: Adult fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: This edition (01/12/2011)
First Published: August 2010
I Bought this one
When a young woman inherits the key to a saftey deposit box in Siena, she is told it will lead to an old family treasure. This mysterious legacy leads her on a dangerous journey into the past - and to the story of her ancestor, Giulietta, whos love for a young man named Romeo turned medieval Siena upside down.
In Siena, the past and present collide as she crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the blood feud that inspired Shakespeare's famous tradgedy. It soon becomes clear that the notorious curse "A plague on both your houses" is still at work - and she is the next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from a dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?
An inspired reimagining of the story of literature's greatest star-crossed lovers weaves the fates of two fascinating women living centuries apart into one unforgettable tale.
I first heard about this one from a friend who doesn't often dabble in historical fiction. She purely reads fantasy novels and on the odd occasion picks up something by the likes of Jodi Picoult. Curiously I looked it up on Shelfari to discover that this was a retelling of sorts and a discovery of the history of Romeo and Juliet. Immediately I decided I wanted this book and every review said that it was in fact worth the read, but now I'm not so sure...
It wasn't necessarily that it wasn't worth reading, but it wasn't as wonderful as I expected it to be. This is coming from someone who normally doesn't let high expectations get the better of her. I really wanted to be able to give this book 5 stars and mark it as a favourite, but it doesn't feel right to put this book right up there with the likes of Sarah Addison Allen and Kate Morton.
One of the things I really liked about the book was all the history about Romeo and Juliet. I have only recently discovered Baz Lurhman's version on film and have watched it to death since I got it. So I thought that it would be interesting to see how romeo and Juliet could have originated and that was very interesting to me.
I did think that this book was a little bit like a YA paranormal romance in the way that the modern day characters started a relationship based on folklore and names alone. I didn't think the character's had spent enough time with each other before they decided they were head over heals in love. I do think that it was a good idea to have this romance in the story, but maybe it needed a little bit more elaboration.
What I think interested me the most was the title of the book. 'Juliet' which is also the name of Shakespeare's Juliet, but none of the characters in this book actually had that name. That whole idea about "What's in a name?..." is very evident in this book as several characters go by other names. They have a whole other identity. The title however is more "What's in a spelling?..." because even though it is a similar name, both the historical and modern heroine are named Guillietta. Just one more way to prove that there were inaccuracies in Shakespeare's version I guess.
I think If anything this book encouraged me to learn more about Italy. Sienna especially. With all the details and descriptions of the ancient contradas and the old buildings I was definitely interested to learn more. Imagine the city where Romeo and Juliet originally took place and all the other possible secrets and feuds that could have happened there.
Overall, I gave this book 4.5 stars. I really wanted to like it more, but the truth is that when it comes to historical fiction Kate Morton has set a high bar. I think historical buffs will definitely be able to get into it and Romeo and Juliet enthusiasts will enjoy it. It definitely brought the movie 'Letters to Juliet' to mind.