Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved Aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.
This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?
I read this book a long time ago after a co-worker recommended it to me. I got my hands on a local library copy and I ended up loving the book so much that I went out and bought it for my own personal collection.
As you may or may not know, I am a huge Shakespeare nut. Any fiction involving Shakespeare and I am there! I recently went to see Romeo and Juliet at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada (if you ever get the chance to attend, do! They put on amazing productions ever year!). Amazing play and this production was awesome! So awesome it made me think about this book and I hope to reread it very soon!
But, back to the book 😉
This book is basically two stories in one. One follows the present day Juliet while the other follows the “original” Juliet. You can tell Ms. Fortier has done her research because the story that takes place in 1340 is rich in detail about the time and about the play Romeo and Juliet. My mom–who I made read this book–made the comment after the play about a gold statue saying she forgot it was in the play when she read about it in the book. Fortier does a fabulous job with tying the two worlds together and this makes the book super enjoyable to read.
Another bonus was the mystery and suspense. I find with some books that have regular “flashbacks” to the past, I tend to enjoy one story more than the other so I dread the respective POV. That was not the case here. I was equally addicted to both and that made this book super hard to put down. While I had suspicions about how the book was going to play–no pun intended–out (I mean, we all know how Romeo and Juliet ends, right?) I found it wasn’t predictable which always makes me happy. The plot was a little DaVinci Code-esque in its delivery but with Shakespeare which I thought was cool.
I really liked the characters and Juliet–either of them–didn’t annoy me (unlike the Juliet in Shakespeare’s play) so win!
You don’t have to like Shakespeare to like this book. If you enjoy mysteries, books with suspense and a dash of romance, you will enjoy this one! I highly recommend it!