Depending on if you read the Hardcover (flower) or the Paperback (two faces) these are the editions of Juliet, by Anne Fortier. I read the hardcover version.

This is Fortier’s first novel and in my opinion she did a bang up job!

However, I’m still taking away a star because of the serious character flaws with the Modern Day Juliet. She was terribly whiny, insecure and horribly naive. The constant complaining about her twin sister Janet (or Giannozza) and second guessing of herself and her low self-esteem became far too often beyond annoying. The ending with the modern day Juliet and her Romeo also becomes quite convoluted, but I won’t say much as I don’t want to give any of the suspense or discoveries away.

But overall, this was some great historical fiction! Romance, mystery, murder, history, intrigue, Shakespeare, present day, past times, treasure hunts, forbidden lands, secret documents, forbidden love….it was a novel that grabbed a hold of me (definitely once the storyline hit on Siena, Italy in 1340) and kept me up late not wanting to leave behind Romeo and Giulietta and their struggle and their undying love for one another.

A curse on both their houses! Julie Jacobs discovers she is a descendant of the Juliet that inspired Shakespeare’s play and heads off to Siena, Italy to discover the truth behind the legendary tale, her family’s connection to the Tolomei’s and Salimbeni’s and the ancient curse that is said to follow them, and to recover a supposed treasure left behind by their deceased mother.  We are brought to modern day Siena and then swept away to 1340 Siena in alternating chapters.

The ancient Guilietta is a wonderful heroine, full of passion and spunk and her swashbuckling hero Romeo is beautifully described.  This primeval story is gorgeously told, full of passion and violent vendettas between three families. This is where I was sucked in, swept away and the parts that I never wanted to end. I was heartbroken when I reached the scene so immortalized in Shakespeare’s play, where Romeo and Juliet meet their demise. Beautifully told!

This is why I am willing to forgive Fortier for her less-than spectacular depiction of the modern day Juliet (how surprisingly different than the original Juliet! Why?) because overall this story is so wonderfully written, the writing is so beautiful and I could not wait to be swept back in time to medieval Siena. 4 stars.