Title: O, Juliet
Author: Robin Maxwell
Summary (From Goodreads): 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, Juliet has a wild, romantic imagination that knows not the bounds of her great family's stalwart keep. The latter path is hers for the taking 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 of the remarkable woman foretold in his stars. The breathless intrigue that ensues is the stuff of beloved legend. But those familiar with Shakespeare's muse know only half the story...
Review: Usually I wait a few weeks to post my review of a book. Not sure why; it just takes me that long to get around to it.
SO not the case with O, Juliet.
This book was fantastic. I love the Romeo and Juliet love story, so when I heard about this book, I had to have it. First, the writing. Phenomenal. I've found two styles for historical fiction: Some historical fiction is written in a modern tone, so I often forget it is actually set in a different time period until someone mentions a ball or something. Maxwell wrote in the second style: classical. It is written with an old voice, so it sounds as if it is really coming from that time period. It is beautiful and inspiring. It makes me want to live during that time and write from that period, but this style is much more difficult, I believe--and much more satisfying.
Next, the story. As mentioned, I love Romeo and Juliet; it is my favorite of Shakespeare's works. I am a hopeless romantic, so I could just imagine being Juliet, wanting true love and knowing it is hard to find (not unlike modern times). She knows a terrible marriage to a dull man is imminent--until she meets Romeo. Romeo is everything she has ever wanted in a man; their love is fast and true. The part I loved most about this book was how it filled in the blanks. Shakespeare's play is, while excellent, short and, obviously, a play. You only read the dialogue and actions. In Maxwell's novel, readers can read Juliet's thoughts, see into exactly what she was thinking when she fell for Romeo and when she decides life isn't worth living without him (sorry if that spoiled the ending--but we all know what happens, don't we?).
Maxwell does make a few changes to the traditional story, but none that mattered much to me. If you are a die-hard Shakespearean and treasure is works above all other literature, it may bother you. Some differences include: they live in Florence, not Verona; Juliet is 18, not 14; their names are different; and Juliet doesn't have a nurse, but a best friend named Lucrezia. I found nothing wrong with these changes; it's an author's right to take liberties with their writing.
All in all, I adored this book. The writing was beautiful, the characters were filled in, and the story completed what Shakespeare outlined.
Recommended for: hopeless romantics, historical fiction junkies, Shakespeare fans; no reader under high school age (for some *ahem* mature scenes)