Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: March 2012 (first published 2010)
Genre: Historical Fiction, romance
The wonderful premise of this book really lured me in, and though I so wished and wanted to tag this book as one of my favorites, I won’t do so nor do I feel inclined much to change my mind.
The book traces the modern-day descendants of the Tolomeis, Salembenis and Marescotti’ all believed to have been descended from an era that was the inspiration which went down as one of literature’ greatest masterpieces William Shakespeare’ Romeo and Juliet.
Much like the bard’ Montagues and Capulets here as well there are families at war, however the lovers aren’t as in the Bard’ version doomed because they are enemies, rather here they are caught in the crossfire of politics and one man’ hunger for power and absolute control. Not to mention his sick and twisted mentality, which makes him marry a girl forcibly; whose family he has had killed and later on when he fails to consummate their marriage send her to a fortress, so that what he failed to do his young son could do for him. As on their wedding night, struck by the wrath of higher powers,not only does he fail to RISE to the occasion; but furthermore discovers he won’t be ever able to do so as well.
Sufficient to say so not only does his plan go awry, but the old geyser finally looses his marbles when he witnesses what results his actions have brought forth;that make him want to gain forgiveness and redemption in a way which goes on to play a huge part in the modern half of the book.
The historical part is exceptionally well written and it really does transport you into that world, you feel for Giulietta and Romeo, every character be it the evil Salimbeni, the quirky Master Ambrogio or even Friar Lorenzo is a delight to read. They capture and enthrall you, and though you very well know what you are in for in the end which is inevitable you can’t but help feel your heart-break for the young star-crossed lovers, you want them to have a second chance, a different ending, you want them to have a happily ever after which is where the whole thing goes downhill as you trace the modern-day descendants of Giulietta and Romeo in Julie Jacobs and Alessandro Santini.
Though initially the modern lovers do show a bit of a potential to have a spark that makes you like them as you progress thereon, you don’t even know actually what made them end up together, it’s so forced and rushed you wonder what the hell happened there. The author clearly dint know what to do with them yet tied em up in a bow to get to the end quickly.
Just because they are namesakes of their ancestors and have descended through the same family tress doesn’t really strike me as a reason for any two people to fall in love, let alone get married. Not to mention the vast difference the characterizations bring in.
Despite being trapped in a society that was hell for women and because of which Giulietta has to suffer a lot, I found her to be an exceptionally strong and well written character, as much as she enchanted me, Julie bored me. Initially it was fun to read her snarky comments on her twin sister Janice or the modern-day Giannozza Tolomei but not only did it get too monotonous after a few chapters but she actually annoyed me, coming across as a complete whiner and cry-baby.
Alessandro was also too flimsy as a character as per me, I mean seriously the tall, dark and handsome types can inspire lust in you, that’s never an issue but to fall in love with one of them and marry them all in the course of knowing each other just for a few days, in fact less than two weeks is really something that seems like totally lame.
If only the modern-day version was salvaged with a bit of a grace,(heck a rebirth story line too was OK) this book would have been so much better, and perhaps scored more stars in my review, though I am certainly not sorry to have read it all together; am just glad I dint spend a dime to invest in a paperback and rather borrowed it wisely.