Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Juliet's Nurse by Lois Leveen

Juliet's Nurse, by Lois Leveen, is an imaginative historical novel about the life of the nurse from Romeo and Juliet.

This novel is set in Verona, 1360 - 1375.  As the book opens, we meet Angelica, the nurse, and see her entry into the Cappelletta family as a wet nurse.  Angelica has been married to her husband, Pietro, since she was a young girl.  They have a loving and lusty marriage, despite the tragedy of losing six sons to the plague.  After Angelia loses her baby daughter, she is asked to be a wet nurse to Juliet Cappelletta, born the same day as her own child.  Her connection to Juliet is strong and immediate.  Readers come to know Juliet and the Cappelletta family through her eyes.  Angelica also befriends Juliet's cousin, Tybalt, a young and lively boy.

The descriptions of Verona are lovely.  Angelica describes seeing the city from a tower:

"I know Verona as I do my own body.  Every labyrinthed passage and each loose paving stone among my parish streets.  The smell of tanneries, of public ovens, and of offal-piles.  The snorting hogs upon the piazza, and the rush of the Adige beneath the bridges.  But I've never imagined this:  that I could stand as tall as the church campaniles, watching the city's roof tiles glint in the sun, the people and animals moving between them as small as crawling insects.  The world spreading beneath me glows with the sublime beauty you see in painting of the Annunciation."

In the second part of the book, Juliet becomes a teenager.  Angelica also becomes aware of the Montecchis, who are feuding with the Cappellettas.  She sees the lives of the prince's young nephews, Mercutio and Paris.  When Juliet meets Romeo, we know what will happen, but the retelling is as moving as it is inevitable. 

This is a novel about love between a surrogate parent and child (the nurse and Juliet) and also about first love between a boy and a girl (Romeo and Juliet).   The historical details are rich and beautifully told.  The especially lovely book design gives a hint as to what waits inside for readers.

The nurse, Angelica, works very well as a protagonist, giving readers a glimpse of a poor servant's life in Verona as well as a look at life in one of Verona's wealthiest families.

I enthusiastically recommend this book for anyone who loves Shakespeare or historical fiction.

Lois Leveen is an author, historian, and former college professor.    She lives in Portland, Oregon.  Her first novel, The Secrets of Mary Bowser, about an African American woman who was a spy during the Civil War, is being developed into a Broadway Musical.

Connect with Lois: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

I received a copy of this book from Italy Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. 

The sponsor is hosting a giveaway of this wonderful novel.  You can enter with the Rafflecopter form, below.  The sponsor will randomly draw names and mail prizes directly to the lucky readers.

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1 comment:

amweeks said...

I love new takes on old books/stories...told from a different point of view. This one looks interesting!