Since in less than a week you will have heard a terrific lecture incorporating and marmorializing [sic] Romeo and Juliet, I thought to prime the pump with a reprint of an earlier post: The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper. It is still one of my favorite, for joyous, books.
Enough of the oceanic understanding of Dickens, the truth and tragedy of Balzac, the flawless technique of Sylvia Townsend Warner (who?) — let's get some joy and light and ROMANCE into the mix. The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper, a writer of The Wertheim Study at The New York Public Library does this perfettamente. It's one of those reads where you take the bus to have more reading time, pause a while before the end to let it linger, then, alone, finish in one happy rush.
Suzanne HarperSix teenagers (3 American, 3 Italian) meet for a summer Shakespeare symposium in Verona. At first you think it might be the Midsummer Night's Dream twist: Benno loves Lucy who loves Tom who loves Silvia who loves Giacomo. But Giacomo, our hero, fortunate in face and frame and manners, has been adored all his life, and is, well, a touch complacent. That is, until Kate enters the fray. Chaste, severe and intellectual (yes, black glasses) she doesn't have much time for his ways. Then Benno and Silvia, G's old friends, think he (and she) needs some chastisement, and try the Beatrice & Benedict trick on them. Though Kate overhears, she and Giacomo decide to play along. But despite themselves, they surrender to "...Love, whenever it comes, in whatever form it appears, however enduring or fleeting it may be. For whether we search for love or are surprised by it, it always transforms us in ways we never expect." Kate thaws, and glows, and Giacomo, indeed transformed, his armor pierced, sees the world anew. As for the others, it's no spoiler to say it works out as it should. But you will, you will, enjoy the paths they take.