- Fritzi Newton
We are all familiar with Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. We also remember the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. Finally, I’d be willing to bet that many of you know the Bard’s famous play was set in Verona, Italy. However, here are a few facts that might surprise you. Shakespeare’s telling was the culmination of several previous versions by various other authors. The original lovers were Giuletta Tolomei and Romeo Marescotti. There was, indeed, bad blood between the families, and the tale was set in Siena, not Verona. In a new telling, Anne Fortier’s Juliet alternates between a 20th-century pairing of Guiletta and Romeo and their 15th-century alter egos.
Julie Jacobs’ father perishes in an unexplained fire. Two years later, her mother dies in a suspicious auto accident. Fearing harm to toddler Julie and her twin sister Janice, their Aunt Rose whisks the children from Italy to the United States. Together with her live-in assistant Umberto, she raises the girls but for years avoids discussing anything related to the twins’ parents and their untimely demise.
As adults, Julie and Janice are polar opposites. While Janice is glamorous, outgoing and flirtatious, Julie is reserved and more of a loner. The bond between the two is tenuous at best. Aunt Rose dies and leaves most of her assets to Janice. To Julie, she bequeaths her mother’s safe-deposit box which contains a key that will hopefully illuminate her parents’ past. Rose also makes reference to the existence of precious but hidden antiquities. Intrigued, Julie taps into her adventurous side and jets off to Siena by herself.
She begins her quest by tracking down the safe-deposit box. Although its contents are disappointing and hardly seem valuable, she has the distinct feeling she’s being followed as she walks through town. Her suspicions are confirmed when someone breaks into her hotel room and rifles through her belongings. Based on villagers’ observations, she wonders if the age-old family feud still simmers. And what is her own connection to Shakespeare’s Juliet? Could she be risking her safety by trying to uncover the long-buried secrets of her parents? Read Anne Fortier’s latest novel for the answers to these questions and more!