Juliet–long book, late night finish. The conceit is interesting: Romeo and Juliet took place in Siena, not Verona, and descendents of the star-crossed lovers are pulled into a contemporary adventure to rewrite history. Anne Fortier’s story itself doesn’t quite fulfill its promise. There is a lot of history–some verifiable but a lot twisted in service to the really clunky plot. The details of Siena, its architecture and ancient feuds, would make a strong underpinning for a tale of murder, greed and fourteenth century curses. Unfortunately, the real stuff wasn’t allowed to stand so you can’t trust that you are getting an inside scoop on history or more solid info than Shakespeare had when he dramatized his fan-fiction.
Characters are oddly shallow in that way romance novelists sometimes create stock figures to perform preordained roles in standard tales. The relationship between the sisters was too awful to believe at first and reversed itself too spectacularly to believe later in the game. Hunky boyfriend was obvious to everyone except, apparently, heroine from page one. Bankers don’t act like bankers; hoteliers don’t act like hoteliers; the entire city seems far too provincial to be credible. Everything and everyone is other than they are first painted, a device that is brilliant in the hands of a master storyteller but more anticlimactic and slightly irritating in Juliet.
The plot is very chaotic but key parts of it are easy to guess. Juliet is not a bad book but it is disappointing. Such a rich vein to tap for a story–but, in the end, not mined skillfully enough to yield pure gold.
Juliet: A Novel (Random House Reader’s Circle) Anne Fortier | Ballantine Books 2010