What if Shakespeare didn't actually author "Romeo and Juliet" but lifted the story from Sienna, changed a few names and made it his own in Verona? Ann Fortier's novel, "Juliet" explores this question and delves into the "true" story of Romeo and Juliet.
Modern-day Julie Jacobs and her twin sister Janice were orphaned at a young age and raised in America by dear old Aunt Rose and her Italian butler, Umberto. Upon the sudden death of Aunt Rose, Julie is shocked to learn Aunt Rose left her entire estate to Janice, and Julie's inheritance is a key to a safety deposit box in Sienna.
Aunt Rose never talked about the girls' parents or their Italian heritage. Upon receiving the key, Julie learns her name is not Julie Jacobs, but in fact, Giulietta Tolomei. She flies to Sienna to unlock the mysteries of her mother's obsession with the Tolomei and Salembeni families and their centuries-long feud. Could they be the inspiration for Shakespeare's legendary romantic tragedy?
Julie uncovers Giulietta's tragic story, set in 1340, which mirrors Shakespeare's play. As Julie uncovers clues to her family's history and searches for the treasure left by her mother, she meets modern members of the Tolomei and Salembeni families. Who can she trust? Are their families cursed? Will she find a twentieth-century Romeo along the way?
This story is fast-paced and full of twists and turns, tragedy and triumph. Romance, intrigue, Sienese culture, flamboyant characters and a sprinkling of the mob round out this fun exploration of the "true" story of Romeo and Juliet. (If you have the time, I recommend the audiobook.)
Recommended by Frazier Walker