#236 ~ O, Juliet

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell

Published by: NAL Trade

Published on: Feburary 2, 2010

Page Count: 338

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: ARC sent to me by the publisher

Availability: paperback and eBook

Giveaway: see below for details

My Review

O, Juliet is the first novelization of Shakespeare’s famous play.  Although Robin Maxwell maintained the key plot points, she did modify the location, opting for Florence over Verona.  The main characters are much the same, however their last names and circumstances are shaped by the history and feel of Florence.  Therefore, the Medici family plays a large roll in the relationship (or lack of) between Romeo and Juliet’s families.  In addition to the Medicis, Dante is also front and center.  The love of his poetry is what brings the two young lovers together.

What I enjoyed most about this novel is the romance between Romeo and Juliet.  Their stolen moment outside of the Medici palace painted such a wonderful picture of young love.  It reminded me of how my husband and I bonded over R.E.M.  We could talk about music for hours.  Having an obvious impediment also seems to draw young couples together.  It makes for a quicker, tighter bond, regardless of how wise the relationship might be in the long run.  When you don’t think that you can have something or someone makes you want it all the more.  You can see very easily how these two characters could get so involved so quickly.

I had some difficulty with the change in Romeo and Juliet’s last names.  They were changed, I presume, due to the different settings to make them authentic to the time and place.  For whatever reason, I never grew comfortable enough with Monticecco and Capelletti to stop looking for Montague and Capulet.  This didn’t prevent me from enjoying the romance, but it did take me out of the story from time to time.  Besides, I liked Maxwell’s selection of Florence over Verona over all, too.  Florence is such a fascinating location and the Medici involvement added so much to the family rivalry.

If you are in the mood for romance, I strongly suggest picking up and reading O, Juliet.  I loved the way Maxwell retold such a familiar story, adding details and fleshing out scenes.  Although I knew the ending to this story before I ever opened, I held out hope in the end.  With this love story, I always do.  Now, when I think of Romeo and Juliet, I will think of two things:  how the young lovers got to know each other in the Monticecco vineyard in this novel and visions of Mr. Sommers, my freshman English teacher, acting out the play his classroom with his wispy white  comb-over bobbing up and down on top of his head.

Robin Maxwell’s Site and a Giveaway!

If you are interested in reading this novel or entering the author’s poetry contest, you should really check out Robin Maxwell’s website.  Or, you can also enter my contest!  I want to thank Robin Maxwell and NAL for providing me with a copy of this novel to giveaway to one of my lucky readers.  Between today and March 4th, leave a comment here telling me about your best Romeo and Juliet memory – your first read, first theater experience, etc…  I will use the great Randomizer to select the winner.

Other Voices

Devourer of Books
Booking Mama
S. Krishna’s Books
In Bed with Books
So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Tanzanite’s Shelf and Stuff


  • At 2010.02.24 09:30, Michelle said:

    Truthfully? I have no good R&J memories, not really. I cannot stand the play. It is my absolute LEAST favorite Shakespeare, and I love Shakespeare.
    I guess my only non-negative memory of R&J would be using one of Juliet’s monologues as an audition piece for Shakespeare camp the summer before my senior year in high school. I can’t remember now which it was, but I got a good role in our final production because of it.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    • At 2010.02.24 09:38, Stephanie said:

      I am going to Florence next month so I chose this book to get me in the mood. I haven’t picked it up yet, but I hope to soon!

      Read more from Stephanie

      Book Review: The Trespasser

      The Trespasser Tana French Viking 449 pages Synopsis: Antoinette Conway is fed up with being the low man on the totem pole of the Dublin Murder Squad. Treated by shit for being a woman on the squad co[…]

      • At 2010.02.24 10:32, Amanda said:

        Thanks for the contest! I’ve been trying to win this one.

        I have a couple favorite memories. The first time I read R&J, I was in high school and we each had to memorize portions of the text. I was stuck with the Queen Mab speech and I didn’t prepare. I got to school early and for a half an hour before class I memorized the whole thing, volunteered to go first, and pulled it off…much to my friend’s amazement. I have a great short term memory.

        That year the contemporary movie came out and my friends and I went to see it. I loved it but was amazed when we left the theater, when one of my friends who was a Senior said she loved it to but didn’t know it was going to end like that. I was shocked. How does one go through high school and not know the ending to R&J. I had to laugh.

        Thanks for the giveaway!

        • At 2010.02.24 11:50, Jo-Jo said:

          I have to admit that I don’t have a Romeo and Juliet experience myself, but I would love to read the book!
          Thanks so much for the honest review.

          • At 2010.02.24 15:13, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

            My best Romeo & Juliet memory is going on a field trip to see the movie at the theater. It was during junior high, so field trips were few and far between and field trips were you could eat junk food were unheard of.

            Read more from bermudaonion (Kathy)

            Mailbox Monday

            Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.  I found these books in my mailbox last week: Monday GREEN by Sam Graham-Felsen came from Penguin Random House Tues[…]

            • At 2010.02.24 16:02, Lisa said:

              Definitely going to see the Franco Zeferelli version in the theater. My dad took me and I was quite young so that bit of nudity in it was a little embarrassing! But I loved it and don’t remember it being in the least over my head. Knowing my dad, he probably gave me a full lesson on R&J before we went. I still love the movie!


              • At 2010.02.24 18:31, Rebekah said:

                As a 9th grade English teacher, my favorite R&J moment is every year when I hear my students giggle for the first time about all of the dirty sexual jokes in the play, and they realize Shakespeare isn’t some boring, dead white guy …. but he can be really funny!

                • At 2010.02.24 20:12, jenn said:

                  Love your cute site. I just started a blog myself.

                  I have to agree with the first comment that Romeo & Juliet is not my favorite, but I will never forget 9th grade and standing on the desk reciting Juliet’s lines from the balcony scene. I was the weird Shakespeare-lover student and played Juliet a couple of times. I loved playing Kate from Taming of the Shrew, but I think my favorite is Much Ado About Nothing, and the film is wonderful.

                  I’m curious about the book. Thanks for doing a giveaway!

                  Read more from jenn

                  Post-Harvey Thanks

                  When various friends and family ask me why I don’t blog anymore, I always get wistful: “I miss it, I do; I just don’t have time for it anymore.” When my husband points out that[…]

                  • At 2010.02.24 22:00, A Bookshelf Monstrosity said:

                    My favorite R&J memory has to be sitting in the movie theater as a 14 year old waiting for the moment that Leonardo DiCaprio -uh, I mean Romeo- first comes on the big screen. All the teenage girls in the theater swooned simultaneously 🙂

                    • At 2010.02.24 23:27, softdrink said:

                      I barely remember reading Romeo and Juliet in high school. When I was in Verona we went to see “the balcony.” Despite the fact that the balcony was built in the 1920s, the place was a tourist zoo. And the street leading up to the courtyard was covered with Romeo and Juliet graffiti, and hearts and initials.

                      • […] The Literate Housewife […]

                        • At 2010.05.04 04:08, Liviania said:

                          I just noticed that you linked to my review! Thanks.

                          (Required, will not be published)

                          %d bloggers like this: