Saturday, May 10, 2014
Romeo And Juliet Novels For Young Teens
The last several years have seen the publication of many novels based on Romeo And Juliet which are aimed at young teenagers. I reviewed two of them in my initial blog entry on Romeo And Juliet: Romeo's Ex: Rosaline's Story and Romeo & Juliet & Vampires. While revisiting Romeo And Juliet, I decided to read a few more of them.
- Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub - This novel begins a couple of weeks after the events portrayed in Romeo And Juliet. The promised statues of Romeo and Juliet are up, but fighting has continued among the young Capulets and Montagues. Benvolio once again works to stop a brawl, rescuing Rosaline (yes, Romeo’s first love interest) in the process, unaware of her identity. When he learns who she is, he accuses her of being at the root of all the misfortunes, for if she had accepted Romeo’s advances, none of this would have happened. Somewhat silly logic, that. Rosaline, age 17, and her younger sister Livia, age 15, play big parts in this story. “Rosaline and Livia were mere nieces, and their name was not even Capulet, but Tirimo” (p. 17). Melinda Taub writes: “Lady Montague did not. She died when she learned her son had slain himself in the arms of a Capulet” (p. 47). Not true. Romeo’s mother died after Romeo was banished, before Romeo killed himself (or at least before she would have learned of it). In Romeo And Juliet, Montague says: “Alas, my liege, my wife is dead tonight!/Grief of my son’s exile hath stopped her breath.” However, it must be pointed out that Melinda Taub’s lines about Lady Montague are given in dialogue, uttered by the duchess. So perhaps the mistake is the character’s, not the author’s. Anyway, at the prince’s urging, Capulet and Montague arrange a marriage between Benvolio and Rosaline in order to keep the peace. But neither Benvolio nor Rosaline is eager for such a union. Rosaline has long planned to become a nun, though she is love with Escalus, the prince. In this novel, Paris turns out to be alive, and tended to by the Nurse and Lady Capulet (and then also by Livia) in an otherwise unused section of the Capulet home. Lady Capulet pretends to be Juliet for Paris while he’s recovering. Yes, it’s perhaps the silliest thing in the story. Lady Capulet explains it this way: “He was so grievously wounded they thought he’d been slain… I was the last to leave Juliet’s tomb, and ‘twas then I heard his moans” (p. 96). Benvolio and Rosaline learn someone is behind the renewed hostilities between their families and are determined to discover who it is in an effort to stop the tension and also avoid their forced wedding. This book kills off the Nurse. Rosaline at one point dresses as a man (as women do in several of Shakespeare’s plays).
This book refers to several of Shakespeare’s works. It begins with a quote from Twelfth Night: “Come away, come away, death,/And in sad cypress let me be laid./Fly away, fly away, breath; I am slain by a fair cruel maid” (p. 1). That is a song from Act II Scene iv. And then each section of the book begins with a quoted passage from one of Shakespeare’s plays. Part 2 begins with this line from Much Ado About Nothing: “I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me” (p. 65). That is a line that Beatrice says in Act I Scene i. This novel makes other references to Much Ado About Nothing, even referring to some of that plays characters. For example, Isabella says: “My husband Don Pedro was to join me here, but the obstinate fellow sends word he plans to remain in Padua some weeks – his friend Benedick wishes to make him godfather to his child” (p. 91). Don Pedro later shows up in the novel, and says, “My friends Sir Claudio of Messina and Sir Benedick of Padua have joined their forces to mine” (p. 309). Part 3 begins with a line from Othello: “Knavery’s plain face is never seen till us’d” (p. 121). This is a line that Iago speaks at the end of Act II scene i. Part 4 begins with a line from Coriolanus: “O, kiss/Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!” (p. 173). Coriolanus says that line in Act V Scene iii. Part 5 begins with a line from Julius Caesar: “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war” (p. 251). Antony speaks that line in Act III Scene i. The epilogue begins with a line from Romeo And Juliet: “A glooming peace this morning with it brings” (p. 315). That is the first line of the final speech of the play. And of course there are other references to Romeo And Juliet in this novel. At one point, Taub writes, “With an obscene bit of his thumb at Livia, he turned and ran off into the night” (p. 112), referring to something included in the beginning of the play. There is also a little play on the whole lark bit from Romeo And Juliet. There is a reference to A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the line, “Perhaps the nurse had a potion that would cause Rosaline to fall madly in love with the first man she saw” (p. 82). There is also a Hamlet reference, as Benvolio and Rosaline meet a joyful gravedigger, a relative of one of the gravediggers from Hamlet. About the song he’s singing, he says, “I had it from a cousin of mine who lived among the Danes.” He then continues: “Ah! He has gone up in the world, for he has buried princes and queens, whiles my humble self has never buried better than a count” (p. 142).
There is an author’s note at the end of the book, in which she mentions that many of the names of the characters in this book come from the list of party guests in Romeo And Juliet. She also acknowledges her allusions to both Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing.
Still Star-Crossed was published in 2013.
- Prince Of Shadows: A Novel Of Romeo And Juliet by Rachel Caine - This novel is told in the first person by Benvolio, and begins a little before the events told in Shakespeare’s play, and ends just a bit after those events. The novel is divided into five sections, and for some reason these are labeled as Quartos. That doesn’t really make sense. “Quarto” doesn’t mean “chapter.” Benvolio’s character is a bit different from that portrayed in the play. In this novel he is referred to as the Prince of Shadows, the best thief in Verona, so clearly different from the honorable man Shakespeare created. The first scene has Benvolio sneaking into the Capulet home with a knife to humiliate Tybalt. He is disguised so as not to give away his identity or house, and he steals Tybalt’s emblem and rapier. Rosaline lives in the Capulet palace, and is Tybalt’s sister. Benvolio sneaks into her room and finds her awake – and beautiful. Mercutio is in on Benvolio’s thievery. Mercutio is portrayed as gay in this novel, and is in love with a man named Tomasso. Benvolio and Romeo are aware of his secret. Benvolio’s grandmother is sort of the fierce head of the Montagues, and she summons Benvolio because she’s upset that Romeo has fallen in love with Rosaline. She knows Benvolio is the Prince of Shadows, and charges him with stealing back Romeo’s love letters. Romeo, age sixteen, also knows that Benvolio is the Prince of Shadows. Also, Balthasar, Benvolio’s servant, knows his secret identity. Hey, who doesn’t? Well, when Benvolio sneaks into Rosaline’s chamber to fetch the letters, she catches him again, and this time guesses his identity. In this novel, Rosaline is destined for the convent.
The novel does tell the story of the play, and it is on page 88 that we get to the first scene of the play, with the biting of the thumbs. There are lines taken directly from the play, though oddly sometimes the context and even the speaker changes. For example, in this novel Benvolio says, “He jests at scars who never felt a wound.” In the play, it is Romeo who speaks that line (except “who” is “that”). And the Queen Mab speech is moved from before the party to lines written in Mercutio’s secret diary. Mercutio still says “If love be rough with you, be rough with love,” but it is moved from before the Queen Mab speech to a tavern scene.
A marriage is arranged for Mercutio and Mercutio is afraid of losing his lover. And then they’re caught together, and Mercutio’s father beats him while Romeo and Benvolio stand by helplessly. Men then hang Tomasso.
The timeline is quite different in this book. The events of Romeo And Juliet cover just a few days. This novel really stretches out that time to several months, which changes the feel. A lot of time has passed since the thumb-biting scene. And then after the murder of Tomasso a month passes, and Mercutio is wed. He hears that Rosaline is responsible for the betrayal of Tomasso, but the fault lies with Veronica, Benvolio’s sister.
Benvolio, Mercutio and Romeo overhear Paris and Capulet’s conversation, in which Paris says that younger maids than Juliet had made happy mothers (Act I Scene ii of the play). Again, a lot of time has passed between the first scene of the play and this one. It then goes into the bit about Romeo reading the list of those invited to the Capulet party. They go to the party. Rosaline is there, as Tybalt had brought her back from the convent she had chosen. Romeo and Mercutio’s dialogue about dreams is moved to within the Capulet party. In this version, Benvolio sees the exchange between Romeo and Juliet (of course, he has to, as the book is told from his point of view). This novel changes Capulet’s tone when he speaks well of Romeo at the party: “His words were honey, but his expression vinegar; he was thinking of the politics of the matter, and of the prince’s royal presence in the very room” (p. 181). After the party, “Weeks passed” (p. 187), which in the play would mean that Romeo and Juliet are long dead. Not so in this novel. It is after this that Romeo jumps over the wall to see Juliet for the balcony scene (long after the night when they first met). Benvolio and Mercutio witness him jumping over the wall, and then Romeo meets Benvolio at the end of the balcony scene. Rosaline steps out on her own balcony, and something wordless passes between her and Benvolio.
Mercutio’s lines to Benvolio, “You’re like one of those fellows who enters a tavern, claps his sword upon the table, and says, ‘God send me no need of thee’…” is said while Benvolio is pursuing a man to kill him. So again, the meaning is quite different from Shakespeare’s play. His quarry leads them into Capulet territory. This leads to “By my head, the Capulets will have us if we are not careful” (different from Shakespeare’s “By my head, here comes the Capulets”). The response is the same: “By my heel, I care not.” Because of Mercutio’s homosexuality in this version, there is a different meaning to Tybalt’s “What wouldst thou have with me?” Rachel Caine makes it clear: “‘Why, Mercutio, what would you have with me?’ Tybalt asked, and made a rude gesture a man would give to entice a whore, so that there was no mistaking his meaning” (p. 242).
In this telling of the story, much is made of Mercutio’s curse on both houses, and he has help from a witch. And another strong focus is the relationship between Benvolio and Rosaline. While Romeo is in bed with Juliet in Juliet’s room, Benvolio and Rosaline share a kiss in Rosaline’s room. Rosaline believes it is not love between Romeo and Juliet, but some sorcery behind it. The Friar purchased the vial from the witch instead of getting it from his own garden. So this novel really makes the attraction between Romeo and Juliet the result of a curse and not love at first sight. Benvolio and Rosaline begin to fall under the curse’s spell as well.
It is Benvolio who send Balthasar to serve Romeo in Mantua. And Benvolio is present when Friar Lawrence learns his letter was not delivered to Romeo, and so is also present at the Capulet tomb, even hearing Juliet’s lines, which is a bit silly. Sillier still is that the ghosts of Mercutio and Romeo appear to Benvolio and help him. There is some silliness regarding a string of rosary beads clinging to Benvolio’s hand, and him thrusting his hand into the fire to destroy them (this is part of what he must do to remove the curse).
The poor nurse doesn’t survive this book either (she was also killed in Still Star-Crossed). And Benvolio and Rosaline do end up together at the end.
There are references to other plays by Shakespeare. For example, Benvolio whispers to a sleeping Tybalt, “Good night, sweet prince, thou poxy son of a dog” (p. 3). The first part of that line is a reference to a line from Hamlet. There is another Hamlet reference later when Benvolio says, “Though it is madness, there is method in it” (p. 272). In Hamlet, Polonius says, regarding Hamlet, “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t” (Act II Scene ii). And there are a couple of instances of someone saying, “Measure for measure” (as on p. 176). And Friar Lawrence says, “Only two days more will see the lovers reunited and safely away, and all’s well that ends well” (p. 304). There is also a reference to Othello near the end, when Mercutio’s ghost tells Benvolio, “Love well, if not wisely” (p. 340). Othello says, at the end of the play, “Of one that lov’d not wisely but too well.”
Prince Of Shadows: A Novel Of Romeo And Juliet was published in February, 2014.
- The Juliet Spell by Douglas Rees - The Juliet Spell is a Harlequin Teen novel about a teenager named Miranda Hoberman who casts a spell to help her get the role of Juliet in her school’s production of Romeo And Juliet, and ends up summoning Edmund Shakeshaft from 1597. This book is told from the perspective of Miranda Hoberman, who begins the story by auditioning for the role of Juliet. Bobby Ruspoli reads Romeo. The scene they do is the balcony scene, beginning with Romeo’s first line: “He jests at scars that never felt a wound.” This book understands what “wherefore” means, and actually makes a point of telling its readers: “You probably though Juliet was asking where Romeo is, right? Wrong. She has no idea he’s anywhere around. He’s just been thrown out of the party her father was giving. He’s gone. She’s asking why the guy’s name has to be Romeo, and the next lines make that clear” (p. 9). The high school drama teacher doesn’t even like the play. He makes that clear when he tells the students, “Romeo And Juliet, William Shakespeare’s most overrated piece of hackwork” (p. 13). Miranda’s mother had acted for several years, and her one regret was that she never played Juliet. Miranda casts a spell, saying, “Make me Juliet.” And a boy named Edmund Shakeshaft appears in the room. He’s frightened and says “ye are Queen Mab, or one of her servants” (p. 25). He says it’s March 15, 1597. She exposes him to television by putting on a DVD of Romeo And Juliet. Edmund, when the movie starts, says, “Witch, by what enchantment have ye conjured up me brother William’s play?” (p. 40). Edmund reveals that he played Juliet, the first person ever to do so, in 1594. He later played Paris. It’s a shame that Miranda didn’t know more about Shakespeare. She could have asked Edmund about Love’s Labour’s Won, and whether someone co-wrote Titus Andronicus or The First Part Of King Henry The Sixth, and whether the poaching tale is true, and what Shakespeare did between 1586 and 1592, and so on. That night when Edmund prays, he mentions Shakespeare’s children, calling his son Hamlet, not Hamnet. Edmund attends the next day’s auditions to read for Romeo. Miranda’s friend Drew reads for Mercutio. Miranda ends up getting cast as Juliet; Edmund is cast as Romeo; Drew is cast as Mercutio; and Bobby is cast as Tybalt. The drama teacher continues to speak poorly of the play: “If Romeo and Juliet proves anything, it proves that Shakespeare’s reputation is based, at least in part, on crap” (p. 86). Edmund whispers to Miranda that Shakespeare wrote Romeo And Juliet in “Winter of ninety-three” (p. 87). Later they learn that a member of the Ashland Shakespeare Festival staff will be attending a performance of the play because of a new apprenticeship program. The director has a heart attack, which cancels the play. But Edmund rallies the cast together, and they find another venue for their production. And then William Shakespeare shows up. Following his appearance is the disappearance of his folio, because now the timeline has changed. At one point Shakespeare says, “’Twas just like hiding from the game wardens in Stratford” (p. 253), perhaps a reference to the poaching tale. At the end of the novel, William Shakespeare and Edmund return to their time. Shakespeare says to everyone, “Look for yourselves in my folio” (p. 257). But as far as we know, Shakespeare had no interest in collecting his plays in a published folio. That was done by other people seven years after his death.
This novel has references to several other Shakespeare plays. Edmund says, “O, brave new world that hath such people in it” (p. 36), a line from The Tempest, a play which in 1597 had yet to be written. And in fact when Miranda shows Edmund a book of Shakespeare’s complete works, he remarks that William has not written The Tempest. Miranda says, “Not yet…We think that was his last one” (p. 43). And of course, Miranda’s name is also a reference to The Tempest. There is another reference to The Tempest later in the novel. Miranda’s father hangs a banner in their yard that reads, “SUCH STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON,” quoting Prospero’s famous speech from Act IV. Oddly, the author includes a bizarre error in this scene. He writes: “ ‘Alas,’ Shakespeare said when he saw the sign. ‘Your noble father has quoted the wrong play. My line is, ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.’ ‘Tis from Midsummer Night’s Dream’” (p. 249). He has Shakespeare say one of his own lines from The Tempest (which at this point Shakespeare hasn’t even written) is from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Such an odd mistake. At the end of the book, Miranda acknowledges, “And maybe I’m Miranda in The Tempest and maybe Dad is the duke-magician who makes everything happen” (p. 259).
Edmund quotes Kent from King Lear, when he yells at a driver, “Ye’re the whoreson heir of a mongrel bitch, an eater of broken meats” (p. 49). In Act II Scene ii, Kent gives a beautiful long string of insults, early on saying “an eater of broken meats,” and then later in the speech saying, “the son and heir of a mongrel bitch.” Later Miranda shouts at a driver, “Whoreson heir of a mongrel bitch” (p. 137). At the end of the book, after William and Edmund have returned to their time, the author writes: “Lately, I’ve been reading in the folio, looking for characters in the plays that might be us. In King Lear there’s a villain named Edmund. I wonder if Shakespeare wrote it for his brother” (p. 259).
There is a reference to Falstaff (of both of the Henry IV plays and The Merry Wives Of Windsor) in the name of a pub: “Falstaff’s A Traditional English Pub” (p. 51).
Edmund quotes Hamlet’s most famous speech: “’Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished” (p. 84). Later Miranda sees pictures of one of the adults in the play, including “portraits of him all in black as Hamlet” (p. 155). There are more references to Hamlet after William Shakespeare appears. Edmund says to him, “Come, brother. Let us absent ourselves from their felicity awhile” (p. 228). The author then writes: “Shakespeare stood up and followed him down the hall murmuring, ‘Absent – felicity…” (p. 228). The idea is that Shakespeare is remembering it to use in Hamlet’s speech in Act V Scene ii, when he says, “Absent thee from felicity awhile.” Shakespeare is working on a new play, and Miranda asks him what he’s calling it. “‘The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, I think,’ Shakespeare said” (p. 229). And then the author writes: “‘A fig on it,’ Edmund said. ‘Everyone has seen the old one’” (p. 229). This response doesn’t quite make sense, as Edmund has seen the collected works of William Shakespeare and knows that the play is a success. And then there is another error. If the timeline is changed, and Shakespeare hasn’t written Hamlet, then it makes no sense when some guy on a motorcycle shouts, “To be or not to be, is that the question?” (p. 236).
When Edmund is asked for his previous credits, he includes, “I perform’d Doctor Pinch in Ye Comedy of Errors” (p. 74). There is another reference to that play when the drama teacher says, about Romeo And Juliet, “The second half of this thing might as well be called The Comedy of Errors II” (p. 87). The play is mentioned again when they young players are meeting with people who could build their set for them: “Because most of it’s ready to go – we did the same kind of thing last year up in San Francisco. Open air Comedy of Errors. We’ve still got the stage” (p. 198).
After Edmund gets the role of Romeo he says, “All’s well that ends well” (p. 84).
At one point Edmund says: “I read in Will’s book. A thing called MacBeth. Very poorly writ. This fellow MacBeth has a wife who speaks of children that never appear” (p. 99). Later Edmund quotes the play: “If ‘twere done when ‘twere done, then ‘twere best done quickly” (p. 123), which is the first line of Macbeth’s speech in Act I Scene vii. Well, the actual line is “If it were done, when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well/It were done quickly.”
A little later Edmund sings a song from Act V Scene iii of As You Like It (p. 112). That play is mentioned again by Edmund: “’Tis like the Forest of Arden in As You Like It” (p. 129). And then he refers to Jacques’ famous speech when he says, “If all the world’s a stage as ‘tis said” (p. 195). Later, after William Shakespeare shows up, there is another reference to that speech: “‘So anyway, I thought that, if the stage is the world, then the world is a stage,’ Drew said” (p. 209). And this novel has Drew quoting Shakespeare be the thing that gives Shakespeare the idea in the first place: “‘All the world’s a stage!’ Shakespeare said. ‘All the men and women merely players. I must write that down’” (p. 209).
Edmund also makes reference to A Midsummer Night’s Dream when he says, “Oh, I am a very fox for valor” (p. 148). Lysander, in Act V Scene i, says, “The lion is a very fox for his valour.” There is another reference to A Midsummer Night’s Dream later: “Oh, did I mention that Edmund was brilliant? He was totally in charge and totally not throwing his weight around. He was Oberon the fairy king and we were his loyal sprites” (p. 204). And after William Shakespeare shows up, he says to Miranda’s mother, “Ye are wise as ye are beautiful” (p. 217), nearly quoting Titania’s line to Bottom (“Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful”).
Miranda’s mother gives Miranda relationship advice by mentioning Much Ado About Nothing: “There’s another play Shakespeare wrote around 1597, Much Ado About Nothing. I played Beatrice. She was in that kind of situation and she handled it pretty well” (p. 162). Beatrice is mentioned again at the end: “I had taken a try at being Beatrice” (p. 261).
There is also a reference to The Winter’s Tale. At the end of the book, the author writes: “And maybe Mom is in The Winter’s Tale as Paulina, the noblewoman who stands up for the truth against the king. It’s the kind of thing Mom would do.”
There seems to be a mistake in the book, because Bobby (who is playing Tybalt) says to Edmund (who is playing Romeo), “Capulet bastard” (p. 166). Of course he should say “Montague bastard.”
The Juliet Spell was published in 2011.
- Anyone But You by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes - This novel takes the Romeo And Juliet story and moves it to modern-day Chicago, with the two families owning rival Italian restaurants. It’s told from the perspective of Julietta Caputo (who goes by the nickname Gigi), who is turning sixteen (so a bit older than Shakespeare’s Juliet) and spends all her time working in the restaurant. The Caputos are involved in a feud with the Montes, who own a nearby restaurant. But what is interesting is that this novel also gives us the history of how the feud started, with alternating chapters told from the perspective of Nick Monte, those chapters taking place in the 1930s through the 1940s.
Each of the chapter titles is a line or phrase from Romeo And Juliet. Chapter 1 is titled “From Ancient Grudge Break to New Mutiny,” a line from the Chorus’ opening speech. This chapter is told from Gigi’s perspective, and she talks about the rivalry with another family-run restaurant, a rivalry whose origin no one seems to know. A fire alarm causes the sprinkler system to go off, ruining the customers’ food, on a night when a restaurant critic is there. The Caputos assume that Roman Monte is behind it. In the second chapter, “She Doth Teach the Torches to Burn Bright,” we go back to the Depression where twelve-year-old Nick Monte and his best friend Benny Caputo go to the World’s Fair. Nick, who is afraid of heights, meets Stella and is immediately smitten. The third chapter, “It Is an Honor That I Dream Not Of,” returns us to Gigi, who is about to turn sixteen. Gigi’s father tries to set her up with Perry (this novel’s version of Paris), the son of a man he’s doing business with. Gigi’s cousin is Ty, the Tybalt of this story. Interestingly, the family cat is named Sampson, which is the name of the Capulet servant who speaks the first line of Act I Scene i of Shakespeare’s play. Gigi, like Juliet, is cut off from having a social life. She goes to an all-girl school, and works at the restaurant nearly every evening. The fourth chapter is titled “Is Thy News Good or Bad? Answer to That.” In the fifth chapter, “Then, Dreadful Trumpet, Sound The General Doom,” we learn that Chef (the equivalent of Nurse) calls Gigi “Ladybird,” as the Nurse does in Shakespeare’ play. On the night of her Sweet Sixteen birthday party, Roman and two friends crash the party (as Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio crash the Capulet party in the play), and Gigi sees Roman and is instantly attracted to him. In the sixth chapter, “What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks,” Nick and Benny start a pizza restaurant. At this point, they’re twenty years old, so it’s eight years after the events in second chapter. Interestingly, in this chapter, there are direct references to the play. The first is when Nick says to Benny, “He’s been switched, under cover of night, with some sappy, starry-eyed Romeo” (p. 62). He then says, “But that’s what you may liken your ‘fair Juliet’ to tomorrow when the next pretty girl turns your head” (p. 62). It turns out that Benny has now fallen in love with Stella (now going by the name Estelle). A greater time period is covered in the Nick chapters than in the Gigi chapters. In chapter seven, “You Kiss by the Book,” we return to Gigi’s birthday party, where she again sees Roman. She calls him “the very object of my idolatry” (p. 73). In Shakespeare’s play, Juliet says “the god of my idolatry.” He tells her he came with friends who crashed the party, and he’s unaware that she’s Caputo’s daughter. They kiss, and he leaves before she learns his name. But her cousin Ty recognizes him and tells Gigi who he is. In the eighth chapter, “This But Begins the Woe Others Must End,” there is another direct reference to the play, as Nick takes Carmen to Queenie Mab’s Candy Shoppe (p. 89). There he runs into Stella. The ninth chapter, “My Only Love Sprung From My Only Hate,” returns us to the end of Gigi’s party. Gigi steps outside and calls her friend, leaving a message about Roman, which Roman overhears, just as Romeo overhears Juliet’s declaration of love for him. And Gigi warns Roman, “You know, if anyone finds you here,” just as Juliet worries about Romeo. There is another sort of reference to the play, when Gigi says, “After all, this wasn’t the sixteenth century” (p. 98), the century in which Shakespeare wrote Romeo And Juliet. This chapter, which has the equivalent of the balcony scene, finds Gigi saying: “‘Of all people,’ I finally said, trying to keep a hold of my senses, ‘why do you have to be Roman Monte? Why couldn’t you just be ‘Joe Schmo?’” (p. 99), the equivalent of “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” Chef interrupts them, just as Nurse interrupts Romeo and Juliet. The tenth chapter is titled “The Earth Hath Swallow’d All My Hopes But She,” and marks the United States’ entry into World War II. The eleventh chapter, “Here’s Much to Do with Hate, But More with Love,” takes us to the morning after Gigi’s party. And we learn that Mark is basically the Mercutio character, as Roman tells Gigi: “Oh, that’s Mark…Not related, but he’s a waiter here. We go to school together, too. He’s the funniest guy I’ve ever met. He loves to hear himself talk” (p. 122). But their relationship is a bit different from that between Romeo and Mercutio, as Roman continues, saying that Mark “mocks me endlessly, but there’s no one I trust more with my secrets. He already knows about you, actually” (p. 122). In the play, Romeo never tells Mercutio about Juliet. If only he had, all the deaths might have been prevented. The twelfth chapter is titled “I Am No Pilot.” The thirteenth chapter is titled “I’ll Pay That Doctrine, or Else Die in Debt.” There is a reference to The Merchant Of Venice in this chapter, when Perry says, “Pops can be a real Shylock, I’ll grant you” (p. 142). The fourteenth chapter is titled “Sad Hours Seem Long.” There is another reference to the play, when Nick remembers a letter that Stella had sent him. That letter includes the line, “Until then, I must make do with cutting remembrances of you into little stars that shine on me always” (p. 148). That is a reference to a line in Juliet’s “Gallop apace” speech: “Take him and cut him out in little stars,/And he will make the face of heaven so fine.” The fifteenth chapter is titled, “Beautiful Tyrant! Fiend Angelical!” In this chapter, we learn that Roman and Ty did have some sort of altercation, and that Roman was trying to protect Mark. So it is similar to the play, except that Mark and Ty are still alive (though Ty is in critical condition in the hospital, and Mark says it was an accident). The sixteenth chapter is titled “No Warmth, No Breath, Shall Testify Thou Livest.” This chapter has another direct reference to the play, as Nick’s plane is christened “Fair Rosaline” (p. 164). The seventeenth chapter is titled “A Madness Most Discreet.” The eighteenth chapter is titled “Why the Devil Came You Between Us?” The nineteenth chapter is titled “Thou Canst Not Teach Me to Forget.” In this chapter (and a bit in earlier chapters), Carmen sort of plays the Friar Lawrence role. Here she conspires to get Gigi one more night with Roman before the family moves. She even has lines similar to those the Friar speaks. She says: “You’re alive. That’s something to be happy about. You’re young and beautiful. That’s something to be happy about. You have a family that loves you, and a very charming boy who loves you, too” (p. 191) Compare those lines to these that the Friar speaks to Romeo: “Thy Juliet is alive,/For whose dear sake thou wast but lately dead./There are thou happy. Tybalt would kill thee,/But thou slewest Tybalt. There art thou happy./The law, that threaten’d death, becomes thy friend/And turns it to exile. There art thou happy.” The twentieth chapter is titled “See What a Scourge Is Laid Upon Your Hate.” The twenty-first chapter is titled “Two Households, Both Alike in Dignity.” And the epilogue is titled “And the Rank Poison of the Old Will Die.” At the end of the novel there are two more references to the play. The inscription on a bench reads in part, “From gloom and woe let peace and friendship grow,” a reference to the Prince’s final speech of the play. And the last line is, “In the trees above us, a nightingale – or was it a lark? – sang sweetly” (p. 222), a reference to the scene of Romeo and Juliet’s morning parting.
This is actually a really good book, and I was surprised to find myself so emotionally engaged.
Anyone But You was published in 2014.