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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Tale of Obsession

Juliet's NurseJuliet's Nurse by Lois Leveen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My copy was a review copy(ARC) provided by Book Browse First Impressions

At the outset, let me say that the premise of this book is excellent and that overall it is interesting. There are, in my opinion, some shortcomings. The bawdiness of the Nurse ( Angelica ) is probably more historically accurate than I realize but still at times it seemed rather jarring. In many instances I found the repetitiveness of the grief for the loss of her sons, of her many lustful romps with her husband , of her interactions with the Franciscan priest very irritating. Enough so in Part I that I almost stopped reading the book. Part II, once Juliet was grown and had more impact on the story than suckling Honey Nurse's breast, was far more interesting. Though, here too, the rhythm of the story would once more get bogged down in the repetitiveness of the earlier themes. In Part I a slight uneasiness with the obsession of the Nurse with Juliet arose but in Part II it caused actual distaste when the relationship became so intense that it felt almost incestuous. This closeness was less stressed once Tybalt's anger and Juliet's aroused interest in young men began to influence the story.
The strength of the story lay in the glimpses of the young Mercutio and Tybalt, in the development of the character of Paris, and in the wonderful character of Angela's husband, Pietro. The ongoing thread of the beekeeper theme carried the story from the early days of their marriage and his gifts of honey comfits, through the tragedy of Juliet's death, to the final days of Angela, alone.
Anyone who loves Shakespeare's play will enjoy Angela's story and though it slumped at times, over all I'm glad to have read it and would surely recommend it to others, whether or not they've read the original. I think it would incline those readers to go to the play as it encourages me to return to it.

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