O, Juliet – Robin Maxwell

Title: O, Juliet
Author: Robin Maxwell
ISBN: 9780451229151
Pages: 352
Release Date: February 2, 2010
Publisher: NAL Trade
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Author
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Juliet Capalletti is a romantic at heart.  Though custom is for the women of her time to be demure and soft-spoken, she has a brain that she’s not afraid to use.   When she marries, she wants it to be for true love, not just for convenience.  One night, she meets a mysterious man at a party, one who inspires her very soul, and her life will never again be the same.

Review:

O, Juliet is a re-telling of William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.  Robin Maxwell takes this classic tale of star crossed lovers and reinvents it, making both Romeo and Juliet more understandable and easier to relate to.

One of the problems I’ve always had with the play is the speed with which Romeo and Juliet fall in love and decide to marry.  I understand that it was meant to be seen in a theater, so clearly a long romance wouldn’t be feasible, but for modern audiences it’s more difficult to swallow.  Add to that the fact that Romeo is talking about a different woman at beginning of the play (Rosaline) – that makes it even harder to believe that Romeo and Juliet fall in love so quickly, to the point where they’d be willing to kill themselves rather than live without the other.

Maxwell makes some changes in order to make the story more relevant to modern readers.  She changes the setting from Verona to Florence, and makes the characters older – Juliet is 18 at the beginning of O, Juliet, rather than 16.  There is also quite a bit of backstory for both Romeo and Juliet.  It’s clear why their families are feuding, and the timeline isn’t rushed.  There is time for their romance to blossom, for them to fall in love with one another.

Juliet herself is a very well-developed, unique character.  I loved that Maxwell made her a writer.  First, poetry gave Romeo and Juliet something to bond over, and second, it gave Juliet a level of depth that she doesn’t necessarily have in the play.  She’s a smart, savvy woman who doesn’t accept that she should be subordinate to others just because of her gender.  She wants better things for herself and fights for them.

O, Juliet isn’t without some flaws – for example, Jacopo, the man Juliet is supposed to marry, is a bit of a caricature, he’s so evil and ugly.  But that doesn’t change the fact that this is a creative interpretation that is both enjoyable and very quick to read.  I definitely recommend it for any fan of historical fiction.

Comments

  1. That has always been my hangup with the original story. Even my 12 year old daughter finds the speed of the courtship insane. I just read Jen’s review of this one, with a nice guest post. I am highly intrigued!

  2. That has always been my hangup with the original story. Even my 12 year old daughter finds the speed of the courtship insane. I just read Jen’s review of this one, with a nice guest post. I am highly intrigued!

  3. The speed of Romeo & Juliet’s courtship never bothered me – maybe I just figured it was because it was a play. O, Juliet sounds great!

  4. The speed of Romeo & Juliet’s courtship never bothered me – maybe I just figured it was because it was a play. O, Juliet sounds great!

  5. I thought the speed of the courtship implied they weren’t really in love and were just acting like very dramatic teenagers. I also thought they were younger than 16, though, so I could be way off!

    I admit that even though this book has gotten a lot of attention, it doesn’t really spark my interest because I’m not a huge fan of Romeo & Juliet. And it’s sad that Jacopo is made into such an irredeemable villain. I prefer them to have more depth.

  6. I thought the speed of the courtship implied they weren’t really in love and were just acting like very dramatic teenagers. I also thought they were younger than 16, though, so I could be way off!

    I admit that even though this book has gotten a lot of attention, it doesn’t really spark my interest because I’m not a huge fan of Romeo & Juliet. And it’s sad that Jacopo is made into such an irredeemable villain. I prefer them to have more depth.

  7. Wow — definitely need to grab this one soon! So glad you enjoyed it… I absolutely love Romeo & Juliet, my most-favorite of all of Shakespeare’s work, and will be eager to read this story!

  8. Wow — definitely need to grab this one soon! So glad you enjoyed it… I absolutely love Romeo & Juliet, my most-favorite of all of Shakespeare’s work, and will be eager to read this story!

  9. I’m reading it now — and am enjoying it.

    Love at first sight works very well in a play. I’ve enjoyed all the renditions of this story I’ve read or seen.

  10. I’m reading it now — and am enjoying it.

    Love at first sight works very well in a play. I’ve enjoyed all the renditions of this story I’ve read or seen.

  11. I agree about them falling in love so quickly in the play. I get it, but I would love to read a retelling that adds more to it.

  12. I agree about them falling in love so quickly in the play. I get it, but I would love to read a retelling that adds more to it.

  13. I agree the stuff with Jacopo was sort of repetitive, but I found that I enjoyed the book enough that I forgot about it by the end. I definitely liked that Romeo and Juliet were able to bond over Dante in this adaptation, instead of just falling for each other immediately. It definitely made me believe more in their relationship.

  14. I agree the stuff with Jacopo was sort of repetitive, but I found that I enjoyed the book enough that I forgot about it by the end. I definitely liked that Romeo and Juliet were able to bond over Dante in this adaptation, instead of just falling for each other immediately. It definitely made me believe more in their relationship.

  15. pilot 万年筆

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy:  I welcome comments and read each one I receive. If your comment needs a response, I will provide it in a timely manner, as I read every comment I receive. Please keep your comments civil and polite! I reserve the right to delete any comments that are rude or inappropriate. Because of spam, I have to moderate comments on old posts. Please be patient - I will approve your comment quickly.

Before the tag in the Genesis footer: !-- Quantcast Tag -->