Fort Myers Florida Weekly


By Anne Fortier (Ballantine Books, $15)



Julie Jacobs is stunned when her beloved guardian dies and leaves her only a passport bearing her real name, Guilietta Tolomei, and a key to a safedeposit box in Siena, Italy, containing a bunch of old papers and a battered paperback copy of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Julie has always felt a strange affinity for the play, but she is astonished to learn that to the inhabitants of Siena, Romeo and Juliet were not fictional characters but flesh-and-blood people who actually lived right there in their own town — and that Julie herself is descended from the historical Juliet, the original Guilietta Tolomei.

Roaming Siena on a quest to unravel the tangled legend of her famous ancestor, Julie soon realizes that she may be on the trail of not just academic satisfaction, but also the location of a fabled lost treasure, a prize both utterly irresistible and incredibly dangerous. The vicious feuds of medieval Siena’s great families remain alive in the suspicious minds of their descendants, making it difficult for her to know who to trust. And as Julie learns more about the deaths of her parents, all signs point to the idea that the centuries old “curse on both your houses” is still at work, which is bad news not only for Julie’s quest, but her own heart.

Fortier throws in some inventive twists on the well-known story, creating a narrative that delights in allusions to Shakespeare’s famous work while still keeping the reader in suspense as to what will happen next.

The timelines of the two Guiliettas are skillfully interwoven, setting the tragedy of the past against the drama of the present. Historical details mix with literary intrigue, hidden identities, forbidden love, a dash of the occult and even a few underworld thugs for good measure, resulting in a romantic thriller that’s a lot of fun to read.

Books reviewed in this column are available online or at your local bookstore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *