Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Juliet's Nurse - Lois Leveen ~ 14th Century Italy

This book was written as an attempt to understand why Shakespeare felt that Juliet's wet-nurse was so meaningful, that he devoted so much dialogue to her. Lois Leveen decided to explore the backstory that was so meaningful. First the scene needed to be reset to a harsh Verona and a harsher plague ridden and violent era.Violence, it seems, permeated every aspect of life in the 14th century Italy.

The story starts with a dramatic, terrifying and finally tragic birth scene that that allows the entry of Juliet's nurse into this upper class family. Quickly the bereaved Angelica takes the infant Juliet into her arms, her heart and her soul. Pietro, her husband, apparently arranges her position with the family priest and profits from the arrangement, while continuing to decry her absence.

The storyline of love and loss seems paramount, and the characters though true to their roles, are not engaging. A unique retelling of the Romeo and Juliet romance that is not at all romantic, but surely intricate and arresting. Juliet's Nurse is a testament to the survival of Angelica who remains resilient despite a life of sorrow. 

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