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A book by Anne Fortier

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A plague on both your houses

  • Oct 9, 2010
In author Anne Fortier's debut novel, young Julie Jacobs is used to taking a back seat to her flamboyant twin, Janice. The girls were orphaned as babies and raised by their great-aunt, who took the path of least resistance in arbitrating their girlish squabbles. When Great-aunt Rose dies, she leaves her entire estate to Janice, with only a bank deposit key and vague story of a great treasure to console Julie. The key and the treasure story had been left by their long-dead mother, and the bank was in Italy. 

So Julie, with nothing to lose, heads to Siena to check it out. She finds that her birth name was Giulietta Tolomei, and that her mother had left translations of 14th century manuscripts, and a code, and a claim that Julie was descended from the first Giulietta Tolomei: the girl Shakespeare later immortalized as Juliet. Our modern Julie learns of the old rivalries between two Sienese families, and the curse on both, and of missing artifacts. There is a ring, a banner, a dagger, friars from a 14-century order, and the promise of a golden statue of two figures marking the long-hidden grave of the young lovers. Julie's mission is to find her Romeo, and reunite with him to finally break the curse. 

The story alternates between long passages telling the ancient story, and Julie's passionate relationship with Allesandro--Romeo. Her sister Janice joins her and the danger ramps up as the sisters close in on the prize. They can't depend on any friend or foe being who he seems to be. Harrowing scenes play out in the bone-filled crypts and ancient waterways far beneath the city of Siena, and in the Piazza del Campo where the historic Palio (horserace) is run. 

This is a big book, and it's somehow neither one thing nor the other. I found the fictional old story fascinating, and I loved the romantic setting in Tuscany where memories are long and the events of six hundred years ago are still so alive in the buildings, the art, and the hearts of the people. The modern romance suffered in comparison, and the danger/thriller element was often implausible. The pacing could have been better and the book could probably have spared 100 pages and been tighter and better for it. 

Still, Juliet was a great escapist experience and if you don't hate romances, you'll probably love this book. I enjoyed the audio edition, beautifully narrated by Cassandra Campbell, who should probably get an Audie Award for reading the entire 20 hours (16 of which would have been plenty) while never mixing up her voices and accents. 

Linda Bulger, 2010

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More Juliet reviews
review by . September 21, 2010
   Delving into the world created by Anne Fortier in her book, "Juliet," immediately rekindled the warmth of the familiar smart, savvy universe of Katherine Neville in her intelligent thrillers "The Eight" and "Calculated Risk." The intimate confidant tone reeking of savoir-faire and an assured self-identity appeals with a spontaneity both insouciant and irreverent welcoming the reader into the inner world of those in the know and those who want to partake …
review by . August 24, 2010
This novel takes a bold new look at the tale of Romeo and Juliet, the most familiar version of which is Shakespeare's tragedy. Although Shakespeare set his drama in Verona, Fortier stages her tale in 1340 Siena, Italy. But the current-day part of the novel begins with the death of a woman in America. Aunt Rose has been raising twins Julie and Janice Jordan since childhood, when they were orphaned. With Aunt Rose's death, Janice is given the estate and Julie is granted a mission, to unravel a centuries'-old …
review by . September 21, 2010
INTRIGUING - AN AUSPICIOUS DEBUT Actress, director, and teacher Cassandra Campbell presents an artf
         Actress, director, and teacher Cassandra Campbell presents an artful narration of this story of a young woman who discovers much from a long buried past. Campbell's voice is fresh, articulate, and a pleasure to hear. She speaks as if she is telling her story directly to the listener, almost in the form of a confidence - very effective. She has done numerous books on tape, documentaries, and commercials in both Italian and English. Today in addition to her …
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Linda Bulger ()
Ranked #150
When I love a book, I want to wave it in somebody's face and say "Look! Read this!" The internet was made for people like me, don't you think? The lunch.com crowd seems friendly enough...   … more
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Jamie Ford Reviews Juliet

Jamie Ford is the New York Times Bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which was chosen as the #1 Book Club Pick for Fall 2009/Winter 2010 by the American Booksellers Association. Read his review of Juliet:

Okay, you’re here, on Amazon and by some clever and fortunate happenstance you’ve clicked over to Anne Fortier’s Juliet. First let me say, bravo. Not only are you intrepid enough to find this gem of a debut novel, but you are about to embark on a journey to Sienna (not Verona, for you Romeo and Juliet purists out there--don’t feel bad, I was one of them too) with our heroine, Julie Jacobs.

Secondly, my advice--aside from urging you to buy this book before someone else in your book club beats you to it--is to buckle up and hold on with both hands. You’re in for a wild ride--a lush, romantic voyage that will stimulate all of your literary senses.

Our story begins when Julie’s beloved Aunt Rose dies, leaving Julie and her twisted sister, Janice orphaned. (Their parents died years earlier in Tuscany). But while Aunt Rose leaves the family estate to Janice, Julie is bequeathed next to nothing, just a passport, a key, and a secret--that her real name is Giulietta Tolomei, a descendant of the Tolomeis and the Salembenis, the real families that inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet—and that the "Curse upon both your houses," is alive and well, 600 years later.


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ISBN-10: 0345516109
ISBN-13: 978-0345516107
Author: Anne Fortier
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
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