In her second novel, Leveen (The Secrets of Mary Bowser) imagines the life of Angelica, the nurse in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. She brings mid-14th century, post-plague Verona to life with its poor, its royalty, and the battles between rival families—here called "Cappalletti" and "Montecchi." Before Angelica can grieve the loss of her own (unexpected) baby in childbirth, her husband, Pietro, a beekeeper, arranges, with the politically savvy Friar Lorenzo, for her to be the wet-nurse for the newborn Cappalletti daughter, Juliet. As the inevitable bond between babe and wet-nurse grows, we are drawn into the protected world of the ultra wealthy, seen through the eyes of the hardworking, no-nonsense but good-humored nurse. Also remarkable is the strong relationship between the nurse and her steadfast husband (in marked contrast to the stiff Cappallettis), who uses his beekeeper trade to gain access to the Cappalletti gardens and his beloved wife. The characters from Shakespeare's work become present—Lord and Lady Cappalletti, Tybalt and Mercutio, Rosaline, and the ill-fated Romeo—and Leveen adds rich new layers to the story we know so well. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/20/2014 Release date: 09/01/2014 Genre: Fiction
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