Juliet, by Anne Fortier

“Go hence to have more talk of these sad things.

Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished,

For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

Romeo and Juliet were characters in one of Shakespeare’s most famous and most loved plays. Characters only. But what if that weren’t true? What if there was a real Romeo and a real Juliet. What if there still is?

Twin sisters Julie and Janice Jacobs were raised in America by their great-aunt Rose since their parents were killed in a tragic car accident in the girls’ native Italy. Growing up, Rose would discourage them from talking about Italy, visiting Italy or asking questions about their parents. When Rose dies, Julie is stunned and hurt to discover that Rose left everything to Janice. To Julie, Rose left a letter and a key; the key to a safe deposit box in Siena, Italy.

Still heartbroken over the death of the woman who raised her, Julie sets off to Siena under her true name – Giulietta Tolomei. There she discovers the true history of Romeo and Juliet – or, rather, Giulietta. As it turns out, Giulietta and Giannozza (Janice), are descended from the original Giulietta’s line. The more Giulietta learns about her past – and the history of the true Romeo and Juliet – the more confusing, dangerous and troubling things become. And when Janice shows up in Italy, as well, the sisters are forced into a desperate and deadly play to make right the sins of the past between three ancient Italian families.

This book has been on my to-read list for quite a while now. I had heard several mixed reviews about it, mainly that it was a difficult book to get into and that, more often than not, readers put it down without finishing. So I was slightly apprehensive to read it, but I didn’t have any trouble at all. The story is engaging and beautiful. The author weaves together the events of modern day with the events in 14th Century Siena, Italy in a lovely way – through stories, translated texts, and letters. It’s a mystery, an adventure, a work of historical fiction, and quite romantic all at once. One of the best books I’ve read in the past few months.

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