A great read for Shakespeare fans and lovers of historical fiction, Juliet’s Nurse is Lois Leveen’s re-telling of William Shakespeare’s famous play, Romeo and Juliet. By shifting the focus of this timeless love story away from the star crossed lovers and having the story told by Juliet’s nurse, Leveen added depth and undercurrents that Shakespeare only hinted at and gave the story some historical details and context, which I really enjoyed.
The best part of the book is how Leveen fleshes out some of Shakespeare’s secondary characters and lets them take center-stage. My favorite character was Tybalt, the merry “Prince of Cats,” who grows from a charming, if lonely boy to a young man killed by his need for his uncle’s approval and his inability to let go of an insult. Angelica, the titular nurse, was also an interesting character and her backstory, full of grief, loss, and survival, provided a vivid contrast to Juliet, whose pampered, privileged life left her tragically unequipped to deal with love and loss. Watching Angelica survive yet another tragic blow and make a life for herself on her own terms gave a more uplifting ending to one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies.