It is the east, and Juliet is the sun… and too much sun can wilt the flowers in the shop and cause the family to go out of business.
Publisher: Broadway (Random House)
First Published: 2000
Date Reviewed: 12th April 2013
Florist families Cacciamani and Roseman have been rivals for three generations, causing havoc to each other’s businesses. But when 60-year-old divorced Julie meets widowed Romeo, sparks fly and they quickly fall in love. They might be able to see each other behind their families’ backs for a time but it’s unlikely to work, especially when it didn’t work for Julie and Romeo’s children. Can the mature version of the fight do any better, and just what is behind the feud, because to tell you the truth, Julie and Romeo have no idea.
Julie And Romeo was the début of Ray, the mother of Ann Patchett, and the book has recently been updated and thus reprinted. It’s a fun relatively short story that brings the older generation into the spotlight in a way that makes it appealing for all ages.
The story itself is rather predictable and light, but it might be those very qualities that make it difficult to put down. Although it doesn’t match the Shakespeare play entirely (time period and ages aside) there is enough of it to make it a fair retelling and the diverges make for a happier tale. There is a comfortable aspect to the story, you know it’s going to be humorous with no extreme hatred, and whilst there may not be much action, the book is exactly what it says ‘on the tin’.
Undoubtedly it’s the ages of the main characters that are the draw and reason d’etre here. Ray has shined a light on an age group largely neglected by the media. She does point this out literally a couple of times, but the book as a whole is devoid of preaching – Ray’s way of promoting her message is to show just why the age-group is not to be forgotten. She demonstrates how at heart everyone is the same, how love doesn’t change just because you’re older, and the result is a book that can be enjoyed by all.
The characters themselves are generally well developed. Ray has allotted a fair amount of page time to each of the families, allowing for the shortness of the book as a whole. The only issue is that Julie, the narrator, is too giving at times, even to her cheating ex-husband. She requires answers but lets people get away with not answering them (from the start of the book she wants to know why the families are feuding but doesn’t put her foot down when people brush her off).
There is also a problem in that flower orders are cancelled by the opposing party, which isn’t particularly realistic, as after the first time a business would have plans in place with the delivery services to ensure it didn’t happen again and to uphold security. Not everyone in the book is as docile as Julie – it would have happened.
But the couple of issues do not effect the book too much. Julie And Romeo successfully proves that romance in literature need not be limited to the young, and it does this whilst being utterly inclusive, funny, and just charming.
I received this book for review from Crown Publishers.
May 3, 2013, 6:05 am
I have a good friend who absolutely adores this book – she’s tried to get me to read it several times. I don’t know why I haven’t read it because I do love stories of older people falling in love.
May 3, 2013, 7:48 am
This sounds lovely – perfect lazy reading by the sound of it. It’s funny that at the moment there are several books trying to make a similar point about romance not being just for the young. Have you read Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd? I haven’t, but it sounds like a very similar kind of story.
May 3, 2013, 12:08 pm
I like the idea of an older couple falling in love. This sounds like a lovely cosy read.
May 3, 2013, 2:07 pm
I love the concept of the older romance, although due to my intense dislike of Romeo and Juliet I’m not sure I would take to this book.
It sounds cosy though, so I may keep it in mind for my next palate cleanser.
May 4, 2013, 12:28 pm
I read this one quite a while back, but I do remember enjoying it more than I expected to. Writing humorous stories with a little bit of depth to them (but not too much!) is hard to do, but this one is a good example of it, I think.
May 4, 2013, 12:37 pm
How fun, sometimes that’s just the kind of read one wants. Very interesting that it’s Ann Patchett’s mom – they sound quite different, which isn’t surprising, but one always is inclined to look for connections.
May 4, 2013, 9:00 pm
I always have fun reading Jeanne Ray books — or well, not Calling Invisible Women so much because that one started to feel pretty heavy-handed — but usually. I haven’t read this one yet, just Eat Cake and Step Ball Change, but it’s on my list.
May 9, 2013, 8:32 pm
I had found Eat Cake at the public library and read it in a couple of hours one summer’s day, so when I found this one, I was expecting another fun, breezy story and it perfectly sufficed. I just read Calling Invisible Women and think maybe younger readers (Jenny) could miss some of the breeziness of it. I’ll have to think about that as I prepare to write about it.
June 13, 2013, 3:47 pm
Anbolyn: It’s a good light read and very short – I’d go with your friend’s recommendation :) It likely won’t change your life or anything but it’s good.
Leander: Yes, it’s exactly that. I haven’t read the Boyd but I’ve hear about it. I love that there are more romances out there in the same vein. It’s kind of about time!
Jessica: It is :)
Alice: It’s not overly the same, but if you really hate the play then not reading this is probably a good idea. Maybe give it a chapter, that should be enough to intimate whether you’d like it or not.
Laurie: Yes, it’s got a good balance of lightness with a poignant theme.
Jennifer: It’s hard not to want to compare when there’s a connection! From the little I know of Patchett I’d say it’s very different.
Jenny: Yes to your statement about Calling Invisible Women, that one’s a complete mess, but if you like the others this one would be a good fit as it is quite fun.
Jeanne: There is a breeziness to Women, though for me the issue was in what it suggested versus what it actually provided. I liked your review.