Romance with Juliet

February 17, 2011

 “One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun Ne’er saw her match since first the world begun.” 

 (William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 1.2)

In honour of a month focused on romance I thought we’d take a peek at a recent fascination with one of the most romantic characters in literature: Juliet.  Juliet of Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet”, and featured in legends before as well, has been surfing a wave of enthusiastic interest of late. Her story is a timeless and romantic one.

The novel Juliet by Anne Fortier (shown above) is one I very much look forward to reading. Publisher Harper Collins outlines the story: “When Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety deposit box in Siena, Italy, she is told it will lead her to an old family treasure. Soon she is launched on a precarious journey into the true history of her ancestor Giulietta, whose legendary love for a young man named Romeo turned medieval Siena upside down.” Described as a thriller, romance and historical epic it is bound to entertain. Critic Alison Weir writes:  “This book is a stunner. Elegantly written in exquisite, vibrant and witty prose that rides well with the clever use of quotes from Shakespeare, it interweaves an astonishing historic take on the tale of the star-crossed lovers with a fast-paced, modern thriller.”  In hard cover with paperback release set for July 2011.

Another interpretation of a Juliet theme appeared recently in the form of a beautiful non-fiction study of the letter writing tradition Juliet’s legend has inspired. Letters to Juliet was researched and written by sisters Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman. When Ceil moved to Verona, Italy with her husband, she and her sister became aware of the Club di Giulietta – a long-standing group of letter writers dedicated to the practice of responding to the endless letters being mailed to “Juliet” seeking advice about love and relationships. The Club itself has been actively maintained by volunteers since the 1930’s though evidence exists showing the letters have been left at Juliet’s home site and tomb in Verona for more than a century. Together the Friedman sisters researched the lore of Juliet and the letter writing tradition and present what they’ve learned in a visually appealing book with glossy photographs and illustrations, text of some of the letters which have been received for Juliet, and even stationery should a reader desire to post a letter of his or her own. Now if you’re thinking this title sounds very familiar you may have in mind the recent movie release of the same name; the movie starring Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave was inspired by this book. It’s a sweetly romantic tale with beautiful scenery – a gentle watch. The new film release Gnomeo and Juliet will not likely be recommended as favourably! So keep an eye out for Juliet … she seems to be everywhere these days.

Click for Link to Movie Trailer

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