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Romeo's Ex: Rosaline's Story Hardcover – September 19, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–Before Romeo fell in love with Juliet, he was enamored of Rosaline, Juliet's 16-year-old cousin, who vowed never to marry. Then his cousin Benvolio rescues her from being trampled in a Capulet-Montague rumble. Rosaline and Benvolio–both skeptical of love–fall for one another. The Capulets and Montagues continue to have at it, and Romeo, Juliet, and most of their cousins end up dead. For Rosaline and Benvolio, though, it's the beginning. Fielder retells the story in fast-paced prose true to the play, without leaving out a single barb, kiss, or duel. As such, this novel is extremely useful for students struggling with a first reading of Shakespeare's work. The author re-creates period language with some success, though her cutesy, anachronistic winks–Juliet and Rosaline call each other Roz and Jules–are irritating. While her 16th-century phrasings and semantics seem more flowery than poetic, she illuminates the emotional lives of the characters in a way that poetry may not, especially for younger readers. The mood here is lighter and mercifully less romantic than in the tragic play, as Rosaline and Benvolio fall in deeper, more realistic love than Romeo and Juliet ever did. Though a little wordy for reluctant readers, this novel is an entertaining primer to Shakespeare.–Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Well, not exactly his ex. True, Rosaline, an apprentice healer and Juliet's cousin, was the briefly object of Romeo's desire, but Rosaline, having seen up close what can happen to the fair sex when a woman gives all for love, has decided to stay chaste. Then she thinks handsome Mercutio has saved her, and almost changes her mind. But Mercutio isn't who she thinks he is--literally. Another Montague, Benvolio, has really rescued her. By then, Romeo is off to Juliet. Fiedler, who reimagined another Shakespearean story in Dating Hamlet: Ophelia's Story (2002), will find a ready audience for this, especially among high-school students who often read this play. With Romeo and Juliet mostly off stage, this story is firmly Rosaline's. Fiedler uses the outline of Romeo and Juliet and then liberally embellishes the story with new characters and new situations. This briskly told tale features a determined heroine, yet one who is not afraid to give her heart when the time is right. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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This story shows the other side of the age old romance between Romeo and Juliet, but it develop those background characters people fell in love with. Benvolio was always my favorite character, and this book helps to develop his story and Rosaline, a character who never had a role in the play.
The author included an array of ideas, which put a new spin on the story. She put a lot of thought into developing her characters, their personalities, their feelings about love and the ongoing feud, but she never neglected the real story and the setting Shakespeare set.
Overall, a fantastic read. I feel it is a book young adults will enjoy and something teenagers and adults can relate to. Great read, I recommend it. The ending is surprising, yet it is refreshing and full of great ideas!
A more detailed review can be found at http://411junkie.com
My first impressions were moderate- the author's use of quasi-Elizabethan language seems more of a forced affectation than an effective way to tell a story. It's understandably simplified for the sake of modern readers (I don't really believe in reading Shakespeare's plays- watching them and hearing the words spoken aloud leads to a much richer and easier to understand experience.), but it still feels pretentious, particularly when lines from the actual play are interspersed in the book- always, always, in italics.
Until two hundred pages into this 246 page book I was unimpressed, but still sorta enjoying it. Rosaline was far more of a modern woman than would be acceptable in 1595, and her affections seemed just as fickle as Romeo's (seriously, she kissed Mercutio and Benvolio in the same night, each time affirming that she loved the man with all her heart). It was nice to see the notion reflected that Romeo and Juliet are foolish, and not the Most Romantic Couple Evah. (I still remember the arguments I had about that when I was taking my Shakespeare class up in Madison... several middle aged women were absolutely aghast at my irritation with the pair.)
But the story lacked heart. We're told that Rosaline wants to be a healer when she grows up (regardless that in 1595 a 16-year-old was considered an adult), but her healing skill seem to involve only patching up Romeo's friend Petruchio (yes, he of Taming of the Shrew fame) at the beginning, and then noticing- with alarming frequency- that people Are Not Dead.
For a play where Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Romeo, and Juliet all end up dead, only two of them are actually DEAD dead when Rosaline comes across them. Tybalt is in a coma- not from the sword-wound, but from hitting his head when he fell. Rather than telling the authorities, of course, Rosaline take him back to the healer and tries to cure him herself, while getting a replacement body to be buried in the Capulet tomb. While in the coma, Tybalt's ghost watches over Juliet (which felt like a very forced way to keep an eye on the Romeo-and-Juliet part of the story while Rosaline's stuff happens).
Don't worry, she didn't kill the replacement body- it was a man who was killed by a dog while trying to abduct 10-year-old Viola (from Twelfth Night- she and Sebastian are orphans being cared for by Benvolio).
Insert eye-roll here- but that wasn't even the point where I lost my suspension of disbelief entirely. That may shock you, but I haven't yet gotten to that point yet.
The story continued to be derivative in unnecessary ways. Rosaline had a balcony scene (with Mercutio), and planned a fake engagement with Benvolio to try to convince the families to stop feuding.
The truly ridiculous part comes directly after "for never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo."
So, Paris, Romeo, and Juliet are all lying dead in the crypt. The parents have sworn to call off the feud and erect statues. Then, everyone proceeds to leave the bodies there in their varying states of disarray, and go off and do... something. Benvolio, Rosaline, and Viola (for some reason), are there, and they're trying to sneak Tybalt's now actually-dead-body into the crypt. (Oh, did I mention that Tybalt's ghosty-self went back to his body to die so that he could lead Juliet to heaven because Juliet's ghosty-self was full of guilt over the suicide? No?)
They get inside and! Romeo and Juliet aren't really dead yet! Rosaline can tell from some super-sense that Juliet is dying, but perhaps she can save them both!
And this is where I shrieked at the book.
Juliet is a breath from dying, Tybalt has been dead for at least an hour, and IN 1595, Rosaline decides she wants to DO A HEART TRANSPLANT.
I am not even joking. She wants to do a heart transplant using only Romeo's dagger and Juliet's wedding ring for a singular clamp. Now, I don't know about you, but having a baby sister who has undergone several heart surgeries (no transplants) gives me the knowledge that THAT IS DAMN WELL IMPOSSIBLE.
After several pages, though, she's convinced to not do it- why? Because Rosaline doesn't know if Juliet could love Romeo if she had Tybalt's heart.
All of the good reasons she has to not do it- like... infection, blood types, white blood cells, SANITATION (these are people who thought bathing too often made one ill!), lack of training, lack of equipment... and she decides that Tybalt's heart would prevent Juliet from loving Romeo.
So she instead make Romeo puke up all the poison, and he's okay. They all sit there in the crypt until Juliet really dies (and no one else comes back), and 10-year-old Viola teaches herself to read, overnight, from gravestones.
Then, to teach the Monteagues and Capulets a lesson, Benvolio and Rosaline decide to make them responsible for Viola and Sebastian's upbringing- because Viola looks so much like Juliet, it's giving them a second chance.
Then Rosaline goes off to study medicine at a university in Padua. In 1595.
In a mere 46 pages, this book went from meh to WHAT THE CRAP IS GOING ON WHAT WAS THE AUTHOR THINKING!!!
I ranted for a good hour yesterday about it. ARGH.
Rosalind is a lovely protagonist. She is spunky and independent and wants to be a physician. Unlike Juliet she does not believe in love at first sight. ALthough the ttragdey of Romeo and Juliet hovers over the story, this is a book that emphasizes the difference between infatuation and "true love".
Unlike Romeo and Juliet, Rosalind and Benlevio's love develops and matures through the trials that they face. In addition Rosalind has the guts to choose her dedication to her studies over marriage, and Benlevio's love for her is strong enough to wait the 4 years it takes for her to finish. I think the author intends this a little morality tale for many young girls.
This is charming book for Mom's and daughters to enjoy.
Most recent customer reviews
The heart transplant idea was absolutely ridiculous but whatever.
I know of a very good book that kept me reading and its longer than 2 hundred some...Read more