GENRES: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction
Oh May. You should be the month during which I enjoy sunshine without crazy heat, walk my dog while the flowers bloom and leisurely watch my girls participate in soccer, lacrosse, track or softball (preferably not all four).
But instead, you have teased me with beautiful weather while everyday of my calendar is filled with activities and appointments. May, you are a life sucker.
First off, there is lacrosse, which is fine. Seems awesome, because the husband is coaching, which means teaching a bunch of 3rd and 4th grade girls how to run with big sticks without poking anyone–including themselves–in the eye. But this means I don’t have to run older girl to practice (yeah!!). Of course, it means I’m the team secretary, but that’s okay. I can handle that one.
Also for the older girl is her fourth grade celebration. It’s the end of their elementary school career– there is no graduation (thank you for that, I think tons of graduations are silly)–but we do a fun ‘good-bye to all the easiness of elementary school-get ready for the real world aka MIDDLE SCHOOL’ celebration. It’s fun, and I will cry, and I have volunteered to help. I’m with a bunch of awesome women and it is worth it. It will be fun!
And there are end of the year field trips, team building for middle school (with all the other kids who will also be going to middle school), field days, carnivals . . . all the end of the year stuff.
But none of that is really quite overwhelming me. What is overwhelming me is younger daughter’s medical stuff. In March we got blood tests back that came back positive for Celiac disease and thyroid issues. Let’s just say that now week in May (and probably some in June) includes some doctor appointment, blood test or procedure. And everyone means entertaining an eight year old with Down syndrome for a couple of hours. Plus, every time a gastroenterology (the Celiac doc) gets postponed it means we have to buy just a little more gluten. We can’t cut it out of our lives until after an endoscopy, and that can’t happen until the stars are aligned just right and we hear angels singing. Or so it seems.
Okay, done whining. On to my book of the day–Juliet, by Anne Fortier.
“Everything we say is a story. But nothing we say is just a story.”
This novel takes a new look at the tale of Romeo and Juliet, the story most of know from Shakespeare. Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet in Verona, but Fortier stages her tale in 1340 Siena, Italy. I’m not sure of the history and truth, but she does tell some wonderful renditions of the story that predate Shakespeare.
This novel starts with the death of a woman in America, Aunt Rose. She has been raising her twins nieces, Julie and Janice Jordan since early childhood, when they were orphaned after the death of their mother in Italy. Aunt Rose’s death brings an estate for the seemingly greedy Janice and a mystery to solve for Julie–a mystery her mother began to unravel, a mystery that dates back to the 12th century. Julie is very disappointed–she had been racking up credit card bills in the hopes that Aunt Rose’s estate would be split between her and Janice.
So Julie flies off to Siena in order to find the ‘treasure’, where she learns her family history and discovers a number of unknown relatives. Julie learns that she was born Guilietta Tolemi, the original Juliet, and she and Romeo must reunite to end a family curse. And there is also the mysterious treasure that Juliet must find in order to save herself, her Romeo, and her sister, not to mention extended family, monks and all of Siena.
Fortier blends past and present, describing Siena in breathless language and beautiful detail. The book combines intrigue, history and romance and is a wonderfully fun read. The ending is pretty predictable, but in a good way. They only part of this story that didn’t quite set me over the top is Julie. She’s a little whiney and seems to take no responsibility for her predicaments. She does mature in the vision of her sister, who becomes more of a sister and less of a torment, but she seems to fall apart all the time. When the mystery is solved it is almost despite Julie being involved. Life seems to happen to her, instead of her taking hold and jumping in.
That said, it is a book I read twice. It is worth the time investment–fun and funny, romantic, adventurous and intriguing. It made me sigh and smile, bite my nails and laugh out loud. I would highly recommend this book, especially as a fun summer romp. GET ON IT!!!