10 February 2012

Audio Book Review: Juliet by Anne Fortier

I actually borrowed this audio book from my mother, for whom I had bought it about a year ago when I saw it on the bargain table at my bookstore.  When I was visiting her over the Christmas hols I noticed that she hadn't listened to it yet, so I helped myself to it. Much as I love David Sedaris and Bill Bryson, I was growing a mite weary of re-listening to their audios on my daily commute, week in and week out.

The story turned out to be surprisingly satisfying, not least because Cassandra Campbell is a very good reader for this story.  I did think that it was a touch over-long, and if I had been reading the physical book I definitely would have skimmed over a good bit of it, but despite that, I give it a solid recommendation.

There are two storylines that eventually come together; one is a modern day young woman named Julie Jacobs, an American who travels to Siena to track down a mysterious inheritance that her mother may have died trying to protect, and the other is the story of Giulietta Tolomei, whose doomed love for Romeo Mariscotti haunted 14th-century Siena and was the inspiration for Shakespeare's famous play. I far more enjoyed the earlier storyline, with its intrigues and betrayals, than the modern one, where Julie seems a little whiny and ineffective. 

Medieval curses, hidden statues, lying scoundrels, mystical rites, horse races, precious heirlooms, family feuds, the Mafia, and yes, two pairs of star-cross'd lovers, all have their roles to play, and while most readers (or listeners) won't have much trouble guessing the various plot twists, there's no denying that this is a frolicsome book.

Now, of course, I have to plan a trip to Siena to visit all of the fabulous places described in such loving detail and I've got an unanswerable hankering to delve into more books with an Italian setting.  It's been years since my one and only visit to that country and this book makes me yearn to return.

This book serves as entry #5 in the New Authors Challenge, hosted by Literary Escapism.


  1. This sounds like a book I'd really enjoy. I don't have a CD player in my car, so I never really have a chance to listen to audiobooks, but I'll definitely look for the print version.


  2. Haha, a trip to Viena to visit all the places :) I started reading this one a while back and abandoned it (I didn't really give it a fair shot, but had a lot going on). I came across it again while reorganizing my shelves and will have to attempt again.

  3. I really enjoyed this book too. The setting was beautifully described, I always enjoy books set in Italy. By the way, I am reading my first Bill Bryson book right now, A Walk in the Woods. So far it is a lot of fun. I think I have read almost all of the books written by Sedaris!

  4. I don't know why, but I am surprised that you so enjoyed this...was it the setting or the writing. Honestly, give me the truth because I trust what you say.

    This sounds like a good, light summer read??? Right?


    S (thanks for the kind words about my line of birds for my new children's bird book. I am almost embarrassed to have YOU (wife of one of my all time favorite illustrators) see my humble works.

  5. Anne, I think it was the Italian setting that made me pick the audio book in the first place. Italy was the first foreign country I fell in love with, and I was so young at the time I traveled there. It would be a dream to go back one day with my more mature sensibilities.

    Sharon, the writing in this book ain't no great shakes, that's for sure. There were a few times that the audio made me laugh for the trite language. But I'll definitely listen to books that I wouldn't necessarily pick up to read, and I really enjoyed the Cassandra Campbell's performance

  6. Sounds like I would like to have this recorded book returned to me so I, too, can enjoy!! No hurry...


Please, sir, may I have some more? (Comments, that is!)