Rated Reads

Juliet

by Anne Fortier

Rated: Mild

Julie Jacobs is devastated when her Aunt Rose, who raised her since she was quite young, dies. She’s then confused and angry when she learns that her great-aunt has left her estate to her twin sister, Janice, who never seemed to appreciate Aunt Rose. But shortly after the funeral, Julie is given an envelope with three items: a letter, a passport and a key. The letter tells her that the key is to a safe-deposit box in Siena, Italy, and that her mother wanted her to have it. Strikingly, it is seemingly for something more valuable than all of her aunt’s estate. But even more striking, Julie finds out that her real name is Giulietta Tolomei, and she comes from a long line of an illustrious family, one that had a longstanding feud with another family, the Salimbenis.

Of course, Julie (Giulietta) makes her way to Siena to find out what her mother left for her. She’s confused to find just a box with old papers in it, nothing seemingly valuable. The papers all relate to the original Giulietta Tolomei, who died in 1340, and who was supposedly the true-life basis for Shakespeare’s Juliet. Some of the paperwork tells the fateful story of what happened to Giulietta and her Romeo, from the perspective of the monk who helped them, Friar Lorenzo.

No sooner does she claim the box from the bank in Siena than Julie finds herself possibly in danger. First, she is sure she’s being followed. Then, her hotel room is ransacked. In the middle of it all, she meets the grande dame of the Salimbeni family, who takes her under her wing (but can a Tolomei possibly trust a Salimbeni?), and most importantly introduces her to her godson, Alessandro. He is handsome and a police officer to boot, but can he be trusted either? Nothing is entirely clear for Julie, and as she starts unraveling the mystery behind what her mother left behind — a mystery that includes a treasure hidden next to the tomb of Giulietta and Romeo — the danger and the confusion ramp up.

Juliet is a novel that wraps up elements of mystery, history, romance and thriller into one satisfying package.

Rated: Mild, for mild and moderate language and some mild sexual references.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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Juliet