Juliet’s Answer by Glenn Dixon

img_3779“… everyone yearns for a little magic. Everyone wants the Gates of Paradise to open for them, and when I wrote my letter to Juliet, it was one last knock on the door. It was one last attempt at a happy ending.”

Juliet’s Answer contains real stories in which the author recounts his experience of traveling to Verona and joining a group that is dedicated to answering the many letters that are addressed to Juliet. That is Juliet of Romeo and Juliet. After the city of Verona began receiving numerous letters from all over the world addressed to Juliet, all having to do with woes of love, a group was established that came to be known as Secretaries of Juliet. Glenn Dixon, who was a teacher for over twenty years and taught Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to his classes, decided to travel to Verona and volunteer his time in answering the letters to Juliet. He does this in an effort to heal, understand heartbreak, and maybe learn something about the ever complicated subject of love.  

“… the sentiments were all the same. All of them were asking about love. All were asking about this soul-wrenching experience that is both our deepest sorrow and our greatest joy.”

This is a nice, breezy, and enjoyable read for fans of soul-searching memoirs, as well as lovers of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The book is presented and organized beautifully into three “acts” containing photos as well as a map and a reader’s guide. The author takes turns talking about his experiences in Verona, flashing back to his struggle with heartbreak, and also dissecting and discussing the play of Romeo and Juliet in one of his classes. Each section is interesting and there is a really nice flow to the structure of the stories, particularly the way the author’s class on Romeo and Juliet is mixed in. A lovely read that tackles the subject of love and brings Verona to life.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

img_3414“I had thought my younger self assumed everything would work out – that I was possessed of some reckless confidence you only have in youth. Otherwise, how could I have been fool enough to try? But the journal wasn’t quixotic, it was fearful. The terror was so present, yet I was doing it anyway.”

With her trademark sense of humour, actress Anna Kendrick delivers a delightful collection of essays on the ups and downs of life, love, and career pursuits. From her early start in theatre to her successful movie career, along with “dating experiments,” she presents stories in a voice that is funny, genuine, honest, and self-aware.

“I worried that luck and timing and opportunity (and my little frame and goofy face) might never align at the right moments, but for all the inexorable insecurities that live inside my head, I knew what I was capable of. I just had to be patient.”

I am a big fan of Anna Kendrick and her sense of humour, so her collection of autobiographical essays was a must-read for me. Scrappy Little Nobody does not disappoint, as Anna’s voice and humour comes through each story, exploring various aspects of her life. She comes across very relatable and as someone you want to be friends with, and this book just confirms why we all want to be friends with Anna Kendrick. A great read for fans.

Most Anticipated June Releases

There are so many interesting books coming out over the summer months, which I’m very much looking forward to.  Each month is full of great releases, so I thought I would break it down and share what books have caught my attention.  These are my most anticipated releases for the month of June:

IMG_1925

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
A modern take on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Vinegar Girl tells the story of Kate who feels stuck running the house of her offbeat scientist father.  When his brilliant lab assistant may be deported, he concocts a crazy plan to enable him to stay and will need Kate’s help to do it.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Another interesting love story from an author that has brought us so many great summer reads.  One True Loves tells the story of a woman who has to choose between a husband she thought was dead and her new fiancé who helped her heal after the loss.

Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North
A choose your own path adventure!
“What if Romeo never met Juliet? What if Juliet got really buff instead of moping around the castle all day? What if they teamed up to take over Verona with robot suits?”  I want to know the answers to those questions. 🙂

IMG_1924

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
A secret library society that travels to alternate realities to retrieve books in order to preserve the works.  Irene is sent on a mission to retrieve a book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales in an alternate London that is infested with chaos, and along with her assistant Kai she is thrown into a dangerous adventure.

We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley
Catherine is wealthy and seemingly has it all, however with men who only seem to be interested in her money she fears that she will never have a family of her own.  When she meets the handsome William everything seems to be falling into place, until strange signs appear and the personal connection he has to her family may hold the answer to whatever is being kept secret.

Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel
It is 1976 in New England and Edgar and Fern are married with three children.  When they discover that the family fortune they depend on is gone, their distress leads them in unexpected directions.

What books are you looking forward to? 🙂

Make Me Remake Me by Gillian Cott

IMG_1810“I realized that I deserved romance if I dreamt it and adventure if I desired it.”

With a desire to travel and expand beyond what is familiar, Gillian Cott embarked on an adventure by saying “Yes!” to an opportunity to live on a farm in Burgundy, France.  A decision which would lead her to Paris, Prague, Montreal, and New York, among others.  Through a combination of poetry and prose, she recounts moments, people, and locations that were significant to her experience, along with the feelings that came with those moments.

Walking on Windy Days

Embrace all colours and feelings of life
like the wet autumn leaves that stick together
crushed under boots
but still bold

At times, you still feel inexplicably alone
more like the last leaf left on a tree
begging to fall
to feel more than
just yourself
shaking against the wind.

Make Me Remake Me: Writing Myself Across Two Continents is a lovely little book that beautifully conveys the author’s feelings about the different and new places she found herself along with romantic hopes, desires, and disappointments.  The combination of prose and poetry works very well and I loved the writing style, finding myself quite often marking phrases that particularly struck me.  Mostly this is a book about self-discovery, finding your place in the world, learning to love yourself and not be defined by another.

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

IMG_1150“To know a new language, to immerse yourself, you have to leave the shore. Without a life vest. Without depending on solid ground.”

In Other Words is Jhumpa Lahiri’s first book written in Italian, a language she fell in love with and dedicated years to learning.  The book is uniquely done, with the original Italian text appearing on every left page and the English translation on the right.  The author shares  a very personal part of her life by not only taking us through her journey with Italian but also writing in the language as well.  The result is an honest and open piece of writing that not only captures the experience of learning a new language and the challenges that come with that, but also how it relates to identity and culture. 

“I believe that what can change our life is always outside of us.”

This is the first book I have read by Jhumpa Lahiri and can in no way compare it to her previous works, but I don’t feel it would be fair to do so in any case, as it is a completely new endeavour.  She followed her passion for a language and truly immersed herself, creating a written account of her experiences and feelings about the process.

As I have no working knowledge of Italian I could not truly appreciate the Italian text that was such a personal undertaking for the author.  However, the English translation is incredibly well done, and I feel it really captures the essence of the original writing.  I related to this book so much and found that it perfectly described the feelings, experiences, and frustrations of adopting a language.  If you have adopted new languages yourself or perhaps struggled with identifying with any one language or culture, you should definitely read this book.  I would also recommend it to anyone interested in languages as well as to fans of Jhumpa Lahiri, as it does provide a window into her life and approach to writing.

“… in the end to learn a language, to feel connected to it, you have to have a dialogue, however childlike, however imperfect.”