Monday, February 13, 2017

A Valentine's Day Post: Juliet's Answer by Glenn Dixon

I thought it was appropriate to review this book the night before Valentine's Day.  It's a sweet memoir about heartbreak, and the search for love--with a bit of Shakespeare thrown in to help illustrate the twisty road of love.

Glenn Dixon is a high school English teacher from Canada who travels to Verona one summer to become one of the small group of people who answer letters written to Juliet Capulet of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. People all around the world write thousands of letters to Juliet, asking for advice for their weary hearts. There is a staff of people who spend their days handwriting responses back to people and mailing them off.  They are known as the "secretaries of Juliet".  

Glenn teaches Romeo and Juliet to his high school students every year, so it's easy to see why he wants to travel to Verona to stay in the city where the epic play of dueling families, forbidden love, and tragedy took place centuries ago.  Or did it?  There are some clues that hint Romeo and Juliet may have actually existed hundreds of years ago; not enough to definitively say, but enough to deepen the intrigue and mystery of it all.  Glenn is hoping by writing letters to the lovelorn, he can figure out his own broken heart.  Glenn has been in love with Claire for years--since college, but she firmly sees him in the friend department, and he's at a loss to understand how he can either move on from her, or get her to see him as more than just a good friend.  She says she loves him, but just isn't "in love" with him.  Ouch. 

Glenn's story broadens a bit as he spends the summer in Verona, wandering the streets, writing letters, and figuring out what to do when he returns to Canada in the fall to teach.  He makes a major decision once he gets back home after a sudden and final discussion with Claire that leaves him shattered.  Can he find happily ever after with the help of Juliet?  

This was a quick read, and a thoughtful look at the many guises of love.  It can make us miserable, and make us weep for joy.  Glenn asks the question:  do we make choices in our life, or is it all up to fate?  How do we know who we're meant to be with and love?  Is it all a game of chance in which we have no control ?

I thought it was interesting to read about a man who was at a crossroads in his life, and trying to decide what to do to move on from a painful relationship.  I'm used to reading about women experiencing this, so it was an eye-opener to see heartbreak from a man's point of view.  Glenn is a nice guy--he's got a good job, is smart, well spoken, and a traveler. Never married, no kids.  Why is it so hard for him to find true love?  You'll find yourself nodding in agreement with Glenn as he ponders his situation and goes through the ups and downs of love. He gets it. 

A big thank you to Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books for a review copy of this memoir.  Fans of Shakespeare, travel memoirs, and those intrigued by love will enjoy this tale of one man's quest to heal his heart. 

Rating:  4/6 for a sweet look at the phenomenon of Juliet's letters, the bitterness of a broken heart, and the promise of new love.   

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