I absolutely loved Juliet’s Nurse, and I’m confident any of my theater pals would too! What made this so fantastic was the clever back stories the author gave to Shakespeare’s well-known characters. As the novel progressed, the characters’ lives explained what made them the people who appear in Romeo and Juliet. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that although I consider myself a fan of Shakespeare, I never gave much thought to the motivation behind the characters. I accepted Lady Capulet’s uncomfortable and curt approach to Juliet without appreciating what in her past left her sullen. I also wouldn’t have imagined the complex life events that Lois Leveen assigned to Tybalt to turn him into the catlike aggressor who ignited a war between two combative families. Leveen spent an obvious amount of care to create her novel and the beautiful result could only be accomplished by a fellow lover of Shakespeare.
The history of the characters surrounded Angelica from the moment she was hired as Juliet’s nurse. Angelica had her own tragic life story, and was presented as a women with a wounded soul that was slowly repaired each day by the lovely babe she cared for. Angelica’s racy relationship with her husband was a great replacement for the romance of the young lovers. As period novels go, this one was easy to read. The language evoked the time without weighing down the writing. I was astonished to see how easily Leveen included the entire plot of Romeo and Juliet in the last third of this novel. The famous phrases of Romeo and Juliet enhanced the story Leveen crafted in Juliet’s Nurse and gave new depth to Shakespeare’s minor characters, like the nurse.
This novel is the epitome of brilliant writing and I hope the author is working on another book just like this one. Can I request the next novel follow Desdemona’s handmaiden?!