Sunday, February 13, 2011

O. Juliet by Robin Maxwell

This novel is a more earthy, human story of the couple who became Shakespeare’s immortal lovers—Romeo and Juliet. It reminds us that they were after all, despite their era of courtly manners and long brocade gowns, a pair of teenagers in love.

Ms. Maxwell’s Juliet is eighteen years old and makes her home in 15th century Florence, she is the daughter of a prosperous silk merchant. As all her brothers have died of fever, Juliet is now her parents’ only surviving child, and her father plans to marry her to his new business partner, a rather disagreeable and secretly vindictive man named Jacopo Strozzi. But Juliet’s true passion is poetry, she idolizes the great Dante, and fueled by tales of Dante and his love for Beatrice, and other great lovers like Tristan and Isolde and Lancelot and Guinevere, longs for true love rather than a loveless marriage of convenience.

Enter Romeo Monticecco, a young dreamer just returned from studying at the university in Padua, who longs to extend the olive branch of peace between the feuding families of Capelletti and Monticecco. But peace is the last thing Juliet’s betrothed, Jacopo Strozzi, desires, and when Romeo and Juliet fall in love and old wounds are beginning to be healed and new friendships formed, the machinations of this devious man set the stage for tragedy.

I applaud Ms. Maxwell for taking a chance and giving us a fresh take on the familiar old story and bringing the lofty immortal lovers back down to earth.

1 comment:

Svea ~Muse in the Fog said...

I really enjoyed this take on Romeo & Juliet; it completely made me feel a connection with the two lovers, and it will not be a telling I forget anytime soon!