Juliet's Nurse

  • by Lois Leveen
  • Narrated by Nicola Barber
  • 10 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 14 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.
By turns sensual, tragic, and comic, Juliet’s Nurse gives voice to one of literature’s most memorable and distinctive characters, a woman who was both insider and outsider among Verona’s wealthy ruling class. Exploring the romance and intrigue of interwoven loyalties, rivalries, jealousies, and losses only hinted at in Shakespeare’s play, this is a never-before-heard tale of the deepest love in Verona - the love between a grieving woman and the precious child of her heart.
In the tradition of Sarah Dunant, Philippa Gregory, and Geraldine Brooks, Juliet’s Nurse is a rich prequel that reimagines the world’s most cherished tale of love and loss, suffering and survival.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good try but no go

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

i would not recommend this book. I am an avid reader of historical fiction and also enjoy Shakespeare so this book naturally piqued my curiosity. The first part of the book was entertaining; it revolves around Juliet's nurse and her background and how the relationship between the two develops. It also tells us about Juliet's family and the not all together satisfactory relationship between her parents. Although the book is generally well written and the second part adds detail to the story we already know and love, the two parts seemed to be forced together. I really wanted to like this book but had to make an effort to finish the second part....the drama becomes diluted and what we get is not such a good re- write of something that worked well in its original version.


Which character – as performed by Nicola Barber – was your favorite?

I liked the way Nicolas Barber read the nurse. The bond developed between milk mother and milk daughter is touching and not inconceivable given the parenting practices among the wealthy of that age.


Any additional comments?

This was an interesting attempt to further explore or develop a classic. I have seen this done with Pride and Prejudice and with Macbeth. I do not think that Shakespeare lends himself to this sort of thing particularly well. Perhaps such monumental works should be allowed to stand alone.

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- Pita "Life long compulsive reader & lover of recorded books"

Juliet's Nurse

Like just about everyone else who experiences an American public high school education I remember reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and really enjoying it even if I found the language rather difficult to get through. After almost 20 years my memory of the intricacies of plot and character development are somewhat blurry but the overall image I retain is of an all-consuming love between two young and naïve members of two feuding families against a backdrop of greed, power and jealousy. Beyond that things get hazy. With Juliet’s Nurse the reader is drawn back into this world of corruption and political rivalries and given the opportunity to view this much-read story from a new perspective, that of Juliet’s wet nurse and strongest advocate, with its world coming to life like never before in a way that is impossible to forget.

When Angelica loses her one day old daughter, a daughter she wasn’t even aware she was pregnant with, she is beyond bereft. Having already buried her sons, who died during the plague, she feels empty even with her caring and always attentive husband, Pietro, by her side. When she is whisked off on the same day she lost her daughter and employed as wet nurse to the newborn daughter of the rich and powerful Cappelletti family, her new charge becomes a balm for her battered heart and her new position as young Juliet’s everything gives her a new purpose in life. Her new life isn’t always safe and happy, however, and her unique position within the walls of the Cappelletti’s home allows her to see the vice and extravagance of a world she was not born into and one she doesn’t much want to be a part of. But her all-consuming love for Juliet keeps her there, ready to defend and do what is right for this daughter of her heart. And when it comes time for Juliet to marry and her young charge goes against the wishes of her father to be with the boy she loves, Angelica will try and do what she thinks is right for Juliet even as events unfold that she could never have anticipated.

I listened to Juliet’s Nurse as an audiobook and found it to be absolutely enthralling! The narrator did an excellent job of giving each character their own voice and perfectly captured the rollercoaster of emotions they all went through throughout the story. Her inflections and pacing was spot on and had me eager to get back in my car so I could get back to the story that had me completely captivated.

The author did a wonderful job as well, breathing new life into the complicated relationships and allegiances surrounding Romeo and Juliet. Having the focus be on Angelica is just brilliant with her unique and always present position not only within the opulent halls of the Cappelletti household but on the grimy and dangerous streets of Verona. I also loved that the author spent the majority of the story before the events of Romeo and Juliet even occur, giving the reader a better sense of what brought about the strong bond between Angelica and Juliet as well as a greater sense of the actions and jealousies that brought about those fateful days dealt with in Shakespeare’s classic story.

I cannot recommend Juliet’s Nurse enough for those looking for a new spin on a much told story. Historical fiction and classics lovers will just eat this one up and it would also be appealing to anyone looking for a novel with a spitfire of a main character or one that fully encompasses and expands on the world Shakespeare created centuries ago.
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- Colleen T.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-23-2014
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio