When Julie Jacob's aunt dies, she is devastated and confounded: her aunt has left her entire estate to her twin sister, Janice. Julie inherits a mysterious family "heirloom" housed in a safety deposit box in Siena, Italy. Thus begins Anne Fortier's mesmerizing novel, Juliet.
Julie travels to Siena and discovers that her life has pretty much been a lie: she is not Julie Jacobs, but Giulietta Tolomei, a descendent of the fourteenth century Giulietta Tolomei.
Yep! That Giulietta, or Juliet, as Shakespeare immortalized in his play Romeo and Juliet. And guess what? There is also one Romeo Marescotti who is a descendent of the Romeo. Giulietta's quest uncovers priceless fourteenth century artifacts, devastating truths about her family, and a centuries old curse, as in "a curse on both your houses." I love the way Fortier describes the City of Siena and its very distinct seventeen neighborhoods, or contradas. We even get to visit a couple of the famous contrada museums in the novel. I have been to Italy three times, but I have never visited Siena. I am now obsessed with visiting Siena. Anne Fortier has probably done more for the tourist industry there than anyone else in years!
Fortier also does an amazing job of weaving the backstory of the fourteenth century Romeo and Giulietta with the present. I truly thought, at first, that I was not going to care as much about the backstory because I was already so familiar with it, but I was wrong. I became just as intrigued by the ill-fated lovers in the past (and actually pulling for them to have a happy ending, even though I already know that their story ends in tragedy) as I did the present-day Romeo and Giulietta. The big question in the book is this: can the curse be broken?
This well-researched book is a bright mixture of intrigue, suspense, history, and romance. My only criticism of the book is that the ending is a little flat; however, I highly recommend it.
Until next time...