Love and violence intertwine in this spectacular sequel to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
The peace purchased with Romeo’s and Juliet’s deaths lasts two weeks before the Capulets and Montagues renew their fight in the streets of Verona. Those closest to the young lovers struggle with their grief: Rosaline Tirimo mourns both her cousin Juliet and her former suitor, Romeo, but resolves to escape the cycle of violence and the grudging charity of the Capulet family by becoming a nun. Benvolio Montague sees Mercutio’s and Romeo’s ghosts everywhere, but he suppresses his anger at the Capulets. Then Prince Escalus attempts to force the feuding families into concord by arranging a marriage between Rosaline and Benvolio, even as a third party incites riots and slays young Capulets and Montagues indiscriminately. Unlike their cousins’ whirlwind romance, Rosaline and Benvolio’s courtship consists of squabbling, sleuthing and a grudging sense of duty. Taub splits her focus between the personal and the political, sending the narrative shuttling among Rosaline, Benvolio, Rosaline’s spirited sister, Livia, and desperate Prince Escalus without losing the thread. Rosaline and Benvolio’s tale is equal parts historical fiction, detective story and high adventure, relayed in accurate but not overwhelming period language, informed by Romeo and Juliet and Shakespeare’s other works but offering an expanded and original perspective.
A perfect blend of the intimate and the epic, the story both honors its origin and works in its own right. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)