Sunday, February 1, 2009

Letters to Juliet by Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman

Erica kidded me all through this this one being in the house, as, believe it or not, I've never read--nor do I intend to read--Romeo and Juliet. However, as soon as I heard of this book, I knew I needed to read it.

It turns out that, for at least a century, possibly longer, people have been writing letters to Juliet, asking her for advice. This book does some cultural anthropology into the beginnings of the letters, interspersing some of the letters actually written to Juliet over the years.

I think it's most fascinating that the first "Juliet" to respond was the male groundskeeper and that the second Juliet was also male. Though they worked alone and sometimes in anonymity, today there is a team of eight Juliets that take care of the high volume of mail she receives.

Most of the letters are fairly standard stuff of advice columns, but a few nearly brought me to tears, particularly a letter from a young lesbian in India, who not only had to face cultural bias, but one of class as well in relation to her true love.

This book was not anything like I'd expected it to be. Rather than just copy the letters for over 100 pages, the writers instead choose to focus on the historical Juliet, showing the reader around Verona and trying to locate the site of the original tomb as well as the alleged Romeo's house in addition to telling the story of how the Juliet phenomenon continued in fits and starts over the years. There are a nice selection of pictures to help visualize things, too. We probably didn't need the "history of Juliet" that opens the text, as it's less than what you'd get in an intro to the Shakespeare. However, that's a small quibble.

I think this book would make a great Travel Channel special and those of you interested in Shakespeare definitely should pick this up. It's amazing how Juliet has been turned into something of a modern goddess, in large part due to a man who wanted to do more within the civil service.
It just goes to show that if you write a great character, they truly will live forever.


  1. check out the Facebook page for Letters to Juliet -- the Book

  2. the movie was so cute so should the book

  3. do u know where i can download this book?

  4. please I want to know the authors life just need for our research project. will it possible?

  5. please, does anyone know where can i download this book?? i saw the film yesterday, and i liked it very much, i didn't know it was based in this book..
    i would like to read it!! ^^

  6. you can download from -


    Letters to Juliet
    by Jose Rivera
    Revisions by Tim Sullivan
    Current Revisions by Will Fetters
    Summit Entertainment

  8. Does anyone know where I can read the book with no download? Thanks, the movie is really cute, so i thought, hey why not read the book also!