Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. We have also been asked to participate in a book giveaway for this novel. Readers may enter at the end of this post.
Quick Summary of Juliet's Nurse by Lois Leveen. In Verona, a city ravaged by plague and political rivalries, a mother mourning the death of her day-old infant enters the household of the powerful Cappelletti family to become the wet-nurse to their newborn baby. As she serves her beloved Juliet over the next fourteen years, the nurse learns the Cappellettis’ darkest secrets. Those secrets—and the nurse’s deep personal grief—erupt across five momentous days of love and loss that destroy a daughter, and a family.
By turns sensual, tragic, and comic, Juliet’s Nurse gives voice to one of literature’s most memorable and distinctive characters, a woman who was both insider and outsider among Verona’s wealthy ruling class. Exploring the romance and intrigue of interwoven loyalties, rivalries, jealousies, and losses only hinted at in Shakespeare’s play, this is a never-before-heard tale of the deepest love in Verona—the love between a grieving woman and the precious child of her heart.
In the tradition of Sarah Dunant, Philippa Gregory, and Geraldine Brooks, Juliet’s Nurse is a rich prequel that reimagines the world’s most cherished tale of love and loss, suffering and survival. - See more at SimonandSchuster.biz.
Juliet's Nurse offers a unique perspective into a timeless treasure. Certainly, I have not read every piece related to the Shakespeare tragedy; but, Leveen's Nurse Angelica offers a different perspective for me. Angelica brings an insider's look at the world of Juliet--all the while her servant class keeps her painfully on the outside of her wealthy charge's family as well. Told through a descriptive, heartfelt, first person narrative, Angelica opens readers' eyes to not only Juliet's life of privilege and pain--but, to the stark realities of a servant during the time period.
Juliet's Nurse appeals to drama and history lovers--regardless of any affinity for Shakespeare. I will be honest--Romeo and Juliet was never necessarily my favorite Shakespeare work. In fact, the incessant reworkings of his piece only lessened the appeal of the original for me. Leveen changed that with Juliet's Nurse. Angelica's story--and her experiences with Juliet's family--offered much more than a Shakespeare "spin". I think fans of historical dramas should adore this book--even without a love of Shakespeare.
Juliet's Nurse sets old characters into new light. As readers take inside looks into the lives of Tybalt, Juliet's parents, and her nurse--those supporting characters take on new lives and significance. I remember reading Romeo and Juliet--and focusing simply on Romeo and Juliet. I remember the other characters--but, I did not develop a passion for those characters. Leveen has now inspired me to reread Romeo and Juliet from a different perspective.
Juliet's Nurse quickly scaled my list of the best books I've read this year. Quite honestly, although dark and painfully realistic at times--Leveen's writing is some of the best that I've read in a long time. After a few pages, I was so drawn to Angelica's story--which was so intricately woven into Juliet's life with detailed accounts--that I was unable to put the book down. The book isn't for everyone--but, for those with an interest and love for Juliet's setting and storyline--this book is certainly for those reading lists.
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About the Author:
Photo by John Melville BishopAward-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.
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