Thursday, October 30, 2014

Juliet's Nurse by Lois Leveen (Review and Giveaway!)

Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen
ISBN: 9781476757445
Published by: Simon and Shuster
Published: 2014
Hard Cover, 384 pages

We all know the story of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.  This new version (although we only come to their story about ¾ of the way through) is told through the eyes of Juliet’s wet-nurse, Angelica, who is brought into the Cappelletti (Capulet) family following the death of her own daughter. In the play, after Romeo and Juliet, the person to whom Shakespeare assigns the most lines is Angelica, so it is tantalizing to consider her role in the story; she who has surprising secrets and has endured great losses that rival the young lovers’ own. It’s basically her story.

Convincing historical details abound that help the reader get a glimpse into life in Shakespeare’s ‘fair Verona’. Herbs, medicines, food, candies, tapestries over doors, hidden rooms, customs, hairstyles – “saints, widows and happily wedded matrons all plait (braid) their hair”, interior decors, coats of arms, all contribute to getting a sense of 14th century Verona.

My favorite character was Tybalt as a child, a loving cousin to Juliet. His sense of wonder at the world around him and poignant desire for a relationship with his father really touched me. I didn’t really engage with Angelica except to sympathize with her bereavements.

The book explores loss and resilience.  It’s also a love story on several levels. This is a well-researched, well-written historical novel albeit peppered with crude and raunchy language, a very sensual tale. There are a few sex scenes with baby Juliet nearby – a heads-up to the reader!

Note: This book is rated S: sex scenes and P: profanity
To read more reviews, follow the tour on Italy Book Tours.

About the author:

Award-winning historian, author, and former college professor LOIS LEVEEN holds degrees in history and literature from Harvard, UCLA, and USC. She traveled to Verona, Italy, to research JULIET'S NURSE, as well as apprenticing herself to an urban beekeeping group in her adopted hometown of Portland, Oregon, to write accurately about the life cycle of hives.

Lois has given talks in Finland, France, and throughout the US about the historical research behind JULIET'S NURSE, and about how she approached challenging themes of teen violence, suicide, and plague epidemics in adapting Shakespeare for contemporary readers. Her first novel, The Secrets of Mary Bowser, based on the true story of an African American woman who spied for the Union during the Civil War by posing as a slave in the Confederate White House, was a 2012 Target Book Club pick and is currently being developed into a Broadway musical.

Connect with Lois: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

And now for the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Reviewed by Sandra

Disclosure: Thanks to Laura Fabiani  from Italy Book Tours for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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