Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review: O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Robin Maxwell’s O, Juliet is a refreshing spin on Shakespeare’s classic Romeo & Juliet. Despite the similarities between Maxwell’s new take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, there are also many differences. For instance, instead of taking place in Verona, Maxwell moves the story to Florence. Also, another significant change to the classic is Juliet’s betrothed Jacopo Strozzi. Jacopo is a foul smelling, yellow-teeth retch of a man, whereas, Paris was a handsome gentleman who actually had tender feelings towards Juliet. By moving the setting to Florence, Maxwell takes advantage of the significant Medici family, who influenced Florence during the 15th century, in order to incorporate some historical aspects to her version of Romeo & Juliet.

Eighteen year old Juliet finds herself trapped in the middle of her father’s new business deal with Jacopo Strozzi. Juliet’s hand in marriage is her father’s way of enticing Jacopo into becoming his business partner in order to keep his silk trade booming. Juliet is repulsed by Jacopo’s foul breath, bad manners, and his intimidating mother. She expresses her emotions and feelings through her poetry that is inspired by Dante’s work.

When Juliet meets Romeo Monticecco, at her friend Lucrezia’s masquerade ball, she immediately falls in love with him. They find they have something in common; their love of Dante’s poetry. They quote his work to express their feelings towards one another, which brings them even closer. For once in Juliet’s life, she has found someone who actually understands and shares her passion for writing and reading poetry, however, this posses two problems. The Capalletti’s and the Monticecco’s are families at war with one another and Juliet is soon to be betrothed to Jacopo Strozzi.

I understand why there are mixed reviews about Maxwell’s spin on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. I personally thought Maxwell’s take was enchanting and fresh. In Shakespeare’s version, Romeo & Juliet are young and their romance takes place within a week making it less believable. Maxwell’s characters are older, more mature, and their romance develops slower over a longer period of time. This allows the characters to become more developed and believable. You really get to know who Romeo & Juliet are as individuals. Unlike Shakespeare’s version, you get to witness what Romeo & Juliet are thinking and feeling as their romance develops.

Maxwell really made this her own and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Throughout the entire read you are wondering how she is going to end the story. Will she stay true to Shakespeare’s tragic ending or will she create a surprising twist and end it with them living happily ever after. You will just have to read and find out! For more reviews and news about other historical fiction authors visit my site http://allthingshistoricalfiction.blo...

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