Romeo and Juliet are gone. Will love live on? Despite the glooming peace that's settled on Verona after the recent tragedy, Montagues and Capulets are brawling in the streets. Faced with more bloody battles, Prince Escalus concludes that the only way to truly marry the fortunes of these two families is to literally marry them together. Everyone is skeptical, but none more so than the pair selected, for the most eligible Montague bachelor is Benvolio, Romeo's best friend, still anguished by the loss of his companions, and the chosen Capulet maid is Juliet's older cousin Rosaline, the girl Romeo first loved and whose refusal of Romeo's affection paved the way for bloodshed. Contrary to their late cousins, there's no love lost between Benvolio and Rosaline, yet they forge a bond to end the renewed feud not only to escape their forced betrothal, but to save their lives and the city of Verona itself.
Melinda Taub’s Still Star-Crossed is full of bloody brawls, Princess Bride style adventure, chivalrous rescues, and Bard-level story crafting. It definitely put me in the mood to re-watch Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.
The Main Players:
Rosaline- Romeo’s prior infatuation
Prince Escalus- Prince of Verona
Benvolio- R0meo’s kinsman
Livia- Rosaline’s younger sister
Paris- Juliet’s intended before Romeo
For the past 15 years of my life, I have DESPISED Rosaline. Ever since I saw Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo writing her name in chalk in Baz Luhrmann’s production of Romeo and Juliet, I’ve held a womanly scorn for her. How dare that harlot besmudge the EPIC-NESS that was R&J’s love. Even while studying the play in freshman English class, I chose to gloss over the minor detail that was Rosaline. I was like a 1950’s housewife from Mad Men. If I didn’t acknowledge the other woman’s existence, she didn’t exist. Still Star-Crossed forced me to face what I loathed: the object of Romeo’s affections before Juliet.
I was a little surly going into this story, and it took me a while to warm up to reading from Rosaline’s POV. I will admit, at the beginning, I felt like the author was trying to win me over to Rosaline’s side by painting Juliet in a less flattering light. I felt like R&J were being knocked off the pedestals I placed them on, and it bothered me. That aside, I enjoyed all other aspects of the story.
We get to know Prince Escalus, Rosaline, and Benvolio the best. I enjoyed each character, and was amused at the outcome of the love-triangle that develops between them. This novel had me at the edge of my seat concerning these three characters, and I can honestly say I had no idea who was going to end up with who. Still Star-Crossed mastered the element of surprise. The twists and turns made for an engrossing plot, and I loved the nods to some of Shakespeare’s other works in this book.
******************************WARNING! POSSIBLE SPOILER BELOW******************************************
There are a few secrets in this story, and Paris is one of them. The character that Melinda painted for Paris was ingenious. The bitterness and delusion that drove him to partner with Lady Capulet, Juliet’s mother in this tale, added a dark and treasonous element that rocked Shakespeare’s Verona to it’s core.
Still Star-Crossed was a MUST READ for me. Put aside the lovely cover and celestial title, and you have a story that picks up where the great Shakespeare left off. What a bold and delightful endeavor. It was an interesting mix of who-dunnit, Shakespearean-style scandal, romance, and the Sopranos. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the only thing lacking, in my humble opinion, was a little more romance. Melinda Taub did an amazing job taking on the task of writing a sequel to the world’s best known love story.
I can’t wait to see the latest remake of Romeo and Juliet coming to theaters this October! Which film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is YOUR favorite?
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