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by Jeanne Ray

Pub Date: June 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-609-60672-7
Publisher: Harmony

A clever, sexy, comic version of Shakespeare's love story.

In place of Montagues and Capulets are Rosemans and Cacciamanis, rival florists in Boston who have always despised each other. `The first time I heard the name Cacciamani,” says Julie Roseman, the 60-year-old narrator, “I was five years old. My father said it, and then he spit.` Julie has been avoiding Romeo Cacciamani for years. Seems that long ago Julie's daughter, Sandy, and Romeo's son, Tony, were star-crossed teenagers in love; the unexplained hatred between their families, though, plus interference from Julie and Romeo, squelched their relationship. Now, when Romeo and Julie accidentally meet again at a seminar for ailing small businesses, everything has changed. Julie's divorced from her husband, Mort (who took off with another woman), and Romeo is a widower; both are available, willing, and regretful. That they fall in love is no surprise except to their children, who manifest their disapproval in disarming ways. Adding coincidence to complication, Sandy is now a divorced mother of two, and Tony never married. Will Julie and Romeo get together? Will their children let them? Will Sandy and Tony be reunited? Of course, the real question fuelling this rollicking tale is: What's the story behind the hate? Only Romeo's mother knows, but she's too busy salting the enemy's roses, and too stubborn to tell—until forced to at the end. Julie's appealing narrative voice and refreshing role reversals like the parents meeting in secret make this Shakespeare Redux engaging rather than gimmicky. While there are no “happy daggers,” there's plenty of rapier dialogue, benign bloodshed, a note-bearing priest, and a wacky , revelatory birthday party reminiscent of the final scene in Moonstruck.

Sure-handed and compelling, though it won't be nudging Shakespeare off the shelf anytime soon.