Juliet by Anne Fortier
It was interesting reading this one so soon after Robin Maxwell's Oh, Juliet. Both are obviously retellings of Shakespeare's, and both allude to the fact the his version was not the first. Both attempt to tell the "real" story behind the tale, although while neither sets their story in Verona, Maxwell's is in Venice compared to this one in Siena.
While parts of this novel are historical, the majority of the story is a modern day Julie Jacobs. The American Julie discovers that her real name is in fact Guiletta Tolomei, and that her mother left clues in Sienna to help Julie learn the secrets of her past and break the curse on her family left over from the Middle Ages. Except part of discovering her past is learning the story of her ancestor also Guiletta Tolomei, the real Juliet.
In general, I'm not a huge fan of stories that alternate between the present and the past. I can't quite pinpoint why, but I think it's partly because I'd rather hear more of the historical aspect. I still enjoyed Julie's story and the mystery she's solving, but I wish the historical tale was as elaborated as hers.
Also while I seemed to get the love between the historical Guiletta and Romeo, I never felt the same connection between Guiletta and her "Romeo." Don't get me wrong, I still liked his character, but I never seemed to see them fall in love.
I did enjoy the stories of the Palio, I think partially because it's the only thing I really remember from when I went to Sienna back in high school. Not that we saw the actual race, but I remember standing in the courtyard in front of the church and hearing that there was an annual horse race here a little in disbelief.
Overall it is an enjoyable book that kept me guessing to the last pages. I did take me a while to get through it, but I think that's partly the way its written. (For me when alternating chapters change time periods so often, it often feel like a natural stop, or a place where I should be taking a reading break.) I do wish there was a little more of a historical story, but still think if you picked this one up it would be hard not to enjoy it.
Disclosure: I was provided this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
15 hours ago