Thank You to Gallery Books for providing me with an advanced copy of Glenn Dixon’s memoir, Juliet’s Answer, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT- Glenn Dixon has spent nearly two decades in love with his college friend, Claire. They have a deep friendship, but Claire does not return his affections, and Dixon watches from the sidelines as she falls in and out of love with several men. As he holds out hope for Claire, Dixon throws himself into his work, as a high school English teacher. Although he has found joy and satisfaction from teaching, he yearns for a change. Dixon decides to spend a summer volunteering in Verona, Italy with the Secretaries of Juliet, a group that sends handwritten responses to love letters left at the home of Juliet, the real life inspiration for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. As Dixon writes these response letters, he begins to gain clarity in his own life, giving him the courage to let go of Claire and move on from teaching.
RECOMMEND– Juliet’s Answer is absolutely delightful. There are so many different components of this story that blend together beautifully. Let me break it down:
First, I had never heard of the Secretaries of Juliet or even that people left letters for Juliet. I’ve not been fortunate to travel to Italy (It’s at the top of my travel bucket list), but I’m aware of the significance of Verona, and that you can visit Juliet’s house. However, just knowing that there is a group of people that volunteer to respond to love letters, is a lovely thought, especially in our modern world. I love the idea that strangers are taking the time to impart wisdom and encouragement to other strangers via snail mail. Isn’t that wonderful? It makes my heart warm.
Second, I had no idea that there is proof that Romeo and Juliet is based on a true story. How cool is that? Admittedly, it’s not my favorite of Shakespeare plays and unlike Dixon, I don’t think that I could find joy in teaching it to a new batch of high school students year after year, however I found it interesting that there is a historical significance. It gave me chills, especially the reference to Dante.
Third, Dixon is a likable narrator. I had hope for him that he would let go of Claire, and I was thrilled for him at the end of Juliet’s Answer, when he had found happiness. His is a story of leaving comfort zones and taking leaps of faith. His passion for his students and his love of Shakespeare jumped off of the page during the classroom scenes. As he was trying to engage his students during their reading of Romeo and Juliet, I felt tricked. I was starting to become swept away by his enthusiasm, giving me pause in rethinking my decades old disdain for the play.
DISLIKE– Nothing. Juliet’s Answer is entertaining and heartwarming.
RECOMMEND– Yes! I know it’s early in 2017, but surely Juliet’s Answer will be one of my favorite books of the year. Dixon is an affable protagonist and Juliet’s Answer is a combination of so many things that I love = lush travelogue, history, literature, snail mail, love story, et… An all-around winning memoir.