Sunday, February 13, 2011
"Juliet" by Anne Fortier
I'm going to start with the end of this book first. No, you don't need a spoiler alert, because the end I am referring to is the Author's Note. While it was apparent throughout the book that it was well researched as far as location, I was even more fascinated to learn, after reading the book, which characters were also loosely based on real people, and how much of the novel also referred to historical events or families. The story itself is indeed fiction, but knowing that the fiction grew on roots of facts delights me. And as such, I wished I had known some of that prior to reading the story.
The book starts in the present day with the death of Julie's beloved Aunt, who raised her and her twin sister from the age of three. The details of her childhood prior to being adopted by her Aunt are very vague, except for the death of her parents in a car accident in Italy when she was an infant. When Aunt Rose's will is read the twins are amazed to discover the estate is left to the less favored Janice while Julie's inheritance is nothing more than a key to an Italian security lock box and the "promise" of finding some unknown ancient treasure left to her by her long deceased mother. Leaving her estranged sister behind in the US with her spoils, Julie sets off for Italy to discover her "inheritance."
Once in Italy Julie begins to unravel the mystery of her past through a small box of documents her mother left in a safe-deposit box. As she learns of her ancestry leading back to the couple that Shakespeare later based his Romeo & Juliet love story on she finds herself in a world unfamiliar to her and not certain of who to trust and who not. The author takes the reader back to 1340 Siena telling the tragic story of Julie's ancestor, Giulietta, and her true love, Romeo, alternating chapters with the present day Julie's attempts to find the treasure her mother sought, until the two stories explosively collide.
I thought I was figuring out the characters throughout the story, alternately deciding which ones wore black hats and which wore white hats. Of course the hats changed a few times as I re-evaluated a good guy into a bad guy and vice versa. But even up to the very end I wasn't quite sure who Julie should trust or not.
When I started this book I would put it down and not pick it up for a few days or even a week at a time. I strongly suggest not reading it this way. I enjoyed the author's style and the way the story was written, but the reader doesn't do the book justice by not reading consistently through the story.
This book has a little for most readers, mystery, crime, adventure & romance. I thought of several books or stories as I read... The Da Vinci Code, Indiana Jones, and of course, Romeo & Juliet. My personal rating is four of five shots.