Sunday, February 19, 2012

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell


Adult Historical Fiction / Retelling (306 pgs.)


Before Juliet Capelletti lie two futures: a traditionally loveless marriage to her father's business partner or the fulfillment of her poetic dreams, inspired by the great Dante. Unlike her beloved friend Lucrezia, who looks forward to her arranged marriage into the Medici dynasty, Juliet has a wild, romantic imagination that takes flight in the privacy of her bedchamber and on her garden balcony. 

Her life and destiny are forever changed when Juliet meets Romeo Monticecco, a soulful young man seeking peace between their warring families. A dreamer himself, Romeo is unstoppable once he determines to capture the heart if the remarkable woman foretold in his stars.

The rich tale of passion, revenge, and tragedy on the cusp of the Italian Renaissance: a fresh twist on the Bard's beloved Romeo and Juliet


I will start off this review by saying that this novel has earned the honor of making me cry for at least a good five minutes after I finished the book. Not quite sure if that is an honor, but there it is. Not many books have really made me genuinely cry, rather than just tear up and sniffle. I can assure you there were many tears, a runny nose, and many tissues involved. It was a good cry.

That being said, I immensely enjoyed this book. The main reason I enjoyed it so much was that as an aspiring author, this is the genre that is dearest to my heart. It is something of a sub-genre to traditional Historical Fiction. This genre takes a well known story/legend (Romeo and Juliet, King Arthur, etc.) and retells it, kind of in a "What really happened," sort of way that makes the legend/story historically accurate and real, if that makes sense. I think this genre is just so instrumental in really bringing the legend to life. 

Robin Maxwell did a fantastic job of integrating the famous story of Romeo and Juliet into the historical time period of the Italian Renaissance. Throughout the story she was able to maintain the delicate balance between the famous tragedy we all know and a new, historically-accurate twist. 

Both halves of the tragic couple were very well written. Juliet was a strong, fierce character who I was instantly drawn to. I could really relate to her love of writing poetry, and her strength in continuing to write it no matter how badly  it was frowned upon at that time in history. Romeo was just as well written, and possessed such a great depth of character. Rather than being the swoony-heartthrob romancy-cliched Romeo, he was full of life; vibrant, soulful, and most definitely intriguing. 

The historical setting of this novel was truly breathtaking. Robin Maxewell's decision to set her novel in Florence rather than in the traditional Verona was an extremely good choice on her part. Since Florence was really the epicenter of the Italian Renaissaince, it just added so much more depth to the story. 

The way Robin Maxwell reinvented the plot of this story was absolutely amazing. I really could not put this book down. The way Maxwell is able to draw you into the story and make you completely absorbed in the plot was alarmingly good. I found myself (when Juliet is in trouble) yelling at my book, which to me, is a sign I am completely and irrevocably in the story.

All in all, this was a fantastic read. Robin Maxewell's historical re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet was truly breathtaking, in every sense of the word. It was absolutely moving and beautifully written. I definitely think Shakespeare would be proud.



Appropriateness Factors

There are a couple of bedroom scenes, not to graphic, but they are there. As always, take it for what it's worth.

Book #1 in Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2012

Alright so here's the lowdown. I missed the 2011 challenge by one book. One!

So this year, I am completely determined exact my revenge and have my 20 books in before the holiday season consumes me, as it did last year. Oh yes, I'm still going for the Severe Bookaholism here. 

So, without further ado, here's to a great year full of amazing historical fiction! Happy reading!


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