untitled (30)The tragic tale of Romeo & Juliet is one of the greatest tales in English literature.  Lois Leveen explores the classic story in Juliet’s Nurse from a different perspective.

We meet a pregnant Angelica as she gives birth to a baby girl after nearly 2 days in labour.  She believes the baby to be stillborn allowing her husband Pietro to take the baby to be buried at a local church.

There is only one other baby girl born the same day in Verona to the powerful Capelletti family named Juliet.  Pietro arranges for Angelica to become a wet nurse in the house.  We watch Juliet grow through Angelica’s eyes, we meet Tybalt a cousin, and soon heir to the family fortune.

As Juliet grows, Angelica’s relationship shifts to a loving mother figure.  Angelica finds out Juliet is actually her own child previously thought lost; instead was switched at birth by Friar Lorenzo.

The fatal scenes play out as they did in Shakespeare’s original play.  Romeo killed Paris, and then poisoned himself.  Upon waking and seeing Romeo dead Juliet stabbed herself.  The final section of the novel we see Angelica surviving, dealing with her grief over Juliet.

Leveen does a great job of fleshing out the characters, and rivalries.  The plot of the original play takes place over 5 days. Here readers get a sense of what might have led up to those circumstances.  And that life carries on even in the face of tragedy.

Rating: 8/10