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Review: Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen


About Juliet’s Nurse

An enthralling new telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet—told from the perspective of Juliet’s nurse.

In Verona, a city ravaged by plague and political rivalries, a mother mourning the death of her day-old infant enters the household of the powerful Cappelletti family to become the wet-nurse to their newborn baby. As she serves her beloved Juliet over the next fourteen years, the nurse learns the Cappellettis’ darkest secrets. Those secrets—and the nurse’s deep personal grief—erupt across five momentous days of love and loss that destroy a daughter, and a family.

My Review

I approached this book with absolutely no expectations, I was curious to see where Leveen would lead me.

I like Angelica, I appreciate her strength after losing her children, her love of Juliet. Her closeness with Pietro. She’s loving, funny, I wish Leveen delved deeper in this woman, so much potential unexplored.

Leveen mastered the setting, the varying classes, the role of females, the brutal aftermath of the plague, family dissension along with medicinal vs apothecary ways. I felt completely submerged in the 14th century.

Angelica and Pietro’s randy behavior becomes monotonous merging to overkill. Tell me once they are a healthy couple with their mutual appetite for each other never lacking but please stop continually reminding me as they eagerly seek locations to ravage one another. Also the constant mentioning of the couples children being taken by the plague borders on annoying. Again, once is all I need to know of the heartbreaking tragedy not a nagging reminder every other page.

More character development with Angelica would have been welcomed, too much emphasis on her capacity as a wet-nurse and devotion to Pietro, Juliet and Tybalt, not to mention her longing for her lost sons.

The first part – Juliet age 1-3 dragged a bit, a faster pace would be preferred. The latter portion of narrative thankfully picked up speed. Angelica stood out but it’s impact was lost, much rather have seen her strength in the beginning as opposed to her lackluster debut.

Leveen’s slant on Romeo and Juliet is unique, a good read but not quite enough to create a mind-blowing adventure. I look forward to more of Leveen, her writings are consistently interesting and creative.

About Lois Leveen972216

Award-winning author Lois Leveen dwells in the spaces where literature and history meet. A confirmed book geek, Lois earned degrees in history and literature from Harvard, the University of Southern California, and UCLA, and taught at UCLA and at Reed College. In addition to her novels JULIET’S NURSE and THE SECRETS OF MARY BOWSER, she has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Wall Street Journal, and her poetry and essays have appeared in numerous books, literary journals, and on NPR. Lois gives talks about history and literature at libraries, bookstores, universities, museums, teacher training programs, and conferences throughout the world. She lives in a bright green house in Portland, Oregon, with a charming, bipedal Newfoundlander.

Published September 23rd 2014 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Leave a comment


  1. I really liked this book too. I enjoyed the story from the perspective of the nurse!

    • Sorry for the delay in responding. I enjoyed the nurses perspective, very clever. I’m glad you enjoyed the book too. Looking forward to more from Leveen. Thank you for commenting Melissa, greatly appreciated.


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