Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is perfectly blended with a modern day Guilietta who seeks to unravel decades of mystery surrounding her Italian family, while lifting a curse, running around ruins, and falling in love! Set in majestic Siena, the book takes a dozen twists and turns of “National Treasure” proportion while Guilietta searches for lost treasure among gregarious characters and through the Italian countryside. The story is full of adventure and comedy and would more than satisfy any true fan of Juliet Capulet.
Guilietta is a young child living in Italy when her mother dies, and she and her twin sister are adopted by their aunt and whisked to the U.S. They will grow up under the new names of Julie and Janice Jacobs and are warned to stay far away from Italy. Guilietta only learns of her true identity after her aunt dies and leaves her a letter directing her to a safe deposit box in Siena which holds secrets her mother kept locked away. Inside the box, her mother has saved several stories of Romeo and Juliet dating back to the 1300’s, letters, books, and a crucifix.
The book reads like an Italian version of National Treasure, with the main character following one clue to another, and finding ancient trinkets that will unlock the mystery of her family, the Tolomeis. Anything found by Guilietta must be tightly guarded as she is constantly trying to outwit the evil characters chasing her, if only she knew who they were! And when Guilietta’s twin sister joins her in Siena, the twins wreak havoc on the idyllic city.
The book moves from present day Guilietta to her ancestor Guilietta living in 1340. We learn of the tangled love of Guilietta’s ancestor, who is the actual woman Shakespeare based his timeless classic character on. The author puts a fresh spin on the classic by placing the tale in Siena, not Verona, and including a third, and deadly, family into the plot. This is done by changing Shakespeare’s character, Paris – the suitor the Capulets want Juliet to marry- into a diabolical and vengeful character who is determined to pull Romeo and Guilietta apart. The author packs the historical tale full of description and deception, and even throws in a curse which our modern Guilietta must undo.
Parts of this adventure were slightly complicated, as the back story had many layers which were at times, hard to follow. But, overall, Guilietta is a charming and fun character to follow through the maze of history and adventure she encounters. Immediately after finishing the book, I had to watch “Romeo and Juliet”! The book would have been absolutely amazing to read on a plane to Italy, and it really made me want to go to Siena. If you are a fan of “Romeo and Juliet” or enjoy treasure hunting and medieval mystery, this is a perfect book for you. I would recommend.