Monday, January 25, 2010

Book Review: O, Juliet, by Robin Maxwell

This week at Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table, we are featuring Robin Maxwell and the release of O, Juliet.  The week will be filled with Reviews, Giveaways, Guest Posts, Interviews, Creative Posts and much more.  You'll want to check in with us daily for a new and delicious reading treat! 

And now, here is my Book Review of the splendid novel:  O, Juliet, by Robin Maxwell

 How many times can this legendary love story be rewritten and reread, you ask?  Well, when the author is Robin Maxwell, you had better rush out and get your copy of O, Juliet, cause this is one historical tale of romance that has just surpassed itself.  Magnificent!

Robin Maxwell has used her creative talent to spin a story involving historical characters, descriptive scenery, credible location, and poetic literature (Imagine pages filled with excerpts of Dante Alighieri’s words!).  The ultimate passion, culminating in the world’s greatest love story.

Oh Romeo, Romeo…make room for Juliet! This heroine is bright, educated and can recite rhetoric and poetry better than any man, at a time where women were denied this privilege. In this version, Juliet's best friend is Lucrezia Tornabuoni, who comes from the wealthiest and most respected family of the time. The girls' families are very close and when the daughters' are to be wed, a fabulous  double wedding is planned.

Everyone except Juliet is thrilled with this. You see, Juliet was already entranced by the rakish Romeo who filled her heart with love, poetry and a lustful more. She had met him at the Medici Ball and from then on it was a myriad of excuses and escapades for the two to continue to meet and nurture their love.  Alas, Juliet was betrothed to the devious and elderly Jacopo Strozzi, her father’s business partner…and, let’s not forget- the lovers’ families had long been feuding…

I absolutely loved this book.  Although, I must admit, that at the beginning I was a bit reticent about the location chosen for this story.  For me it was almost blasphemous to consider any other possible location other than historical Verona. Yet, Maxwell carved a very convincing re-piecing by tracing it to Tuscany, setting the stage for a possible and credible friendship with the influential family.  As a matter of fact, every element of the tale helped create a believable story that no doubt, even Shakespeare would approve of.

The thing I enjoyed most about this beautiful story is Juliet herself.  I had never before imagined her having any other voice but that of Romeo’s chosen love.  In O, Juliet, our heroine has a mind of her own.  She is headstrong and knows what she wants.  Her strength and character is felt throughout the book.  This was a delightful surprise for me.  I commend the author for her talent in capturing Juliet’s feminine essence in completeness- rendering history all that more appealing to read, especially for today’s younger women.

For fear of diminishing any of its splendors, I kind of hesitate when saying that this, in my view, is a deliciously modern take of the romantic tale we have all read about before.  Although everything about it has kept its historical flavor, the story is told with more detailed intrigue, suspense, passion, lust (without getting racy)and, yes, lots of tears! The story moves along at a fast yet tantalizing pace.  And without giving anything away- the ending is brilliant.  I always wondered about that…A twist that seals it perfectly.  Read it, you’ll see what I mean.

There is no way you can pass up this book.  LOVED IT!

 Also featured today for the HFBRT event is
Agreat post with fabulously unbelievable giveaways at!

Versions of Romeo and Juliet throughout history at

And- Splendid Artwork: Romeo and Juliet in Art, Part 1 at Hist-Fic Chick!
Be sure to check these out:)

I am also entering this one for the challenge:  The Four Month Challenge, under the section, Read a book related to or something by Shakespeare

As well as The Historical Reading Challenge 2010

And for Juliet's strength and determination against all odds -especially for young women in those days: The Women Unbound Challenge


Nina said...

Great review, the book does sounds so beautiful. I love that Julia is this female with her own 'voice'.

brokenteepee said...

Thanks for such an entertaining review.

Arleigh said...

This is a thoroughly positive review and I can't agree more! I also love that she used Lucrezia, who is a character in Signora da Vinci and for that reason the setting was perfect in Florence as well.

Unknown said...

Excellent review Lucy, and I agree with you on every point! I loved that poetry was strong in this story, without the whole thing being a poem. And I totally loved this Juliet!

Tudor Daughter said...

Excellent review Lucy! I am glad you enjoyed this book so much.

BurtonReview said...

Great review, Lucy. Your praise is abundantly clear.. I agree with you as well that this is an excellent read.

Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

Awesome review! I totally agree with everything you've said - and I, too, loved the ending. Even though we had a sense of what was coming, I still held out hope that Robin's ending would not end as tragically as the Bard's. But that twist at the end (yes, everyone, there IS a twist!) was gut-wrenching and I cried!

I know you were hesitant about the relocating of the story to Florence, but I'm so glad you liked the change of scenery and felt its Florentine characters added, rather than took away from the story. I can't wait to read your post on Verona and hear all about your childhood there!! Well done, Lucy!

Lizzie said...

I too really enjoyed Juliet so was a woman so ahead of her time. I loved the book no if and's or buts about it. It has to be by far my newest favorite.

Jenny said...

I am really looking forward to this one. I am glad she made Juliet a strong character. I am always looking for books with strong female characters to recommend to my students.

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

I won the book from Robin and I can't wait to read it. This was a great review Lucy. I like the idea that Juliet is a strong female character!