Monday, March 03, 2008

"Innocence is a curable disease, you know."

another rewriting of Shakespeare; another feminist interpretation; another Lisa Fiedler young adult novel (even though i wasn’t excessively thrilled with the last); i guess i just can’t resist…

Romeo’s Ex: Rosaline’s story takes a rather minor character from Romeo and Juliet (though she is the catalyst for the meeting of the couple that many consider the most romantic of all time~just in case you need a refresher, Rosaline was the character Romeo was mooning over at the beginning of the play and drove him to sneak into the Capulet’s party where he instantly fell in love with Juliet). In Fiedler’s take, Rosaline is Juliet’s cousin (a not entirely unbelievable premise given that the drama’s character has some relation to the Capulets [else why would she be at the party?]). Rosaline is also an apprentice healer (seemingly to be a common theme with Fiedler~tho Rosaline has ambitions to study medicine at an academy), which provides her an opportunity to meet Romeo in the first place (and he to become enamored of her).

Rosaline’s story really is the main focus of this novel while Romeo and Juliet’s is told as more of a subplot (and as a contrast to the true love that develops between Rosaline and Benvolio {both originally skeptical of love and all things related), who saves her life during the play’s initial Montague/Capulet brawl~tho she originally mistakes her savior for Mercutio). Rosaline’s yearning for the bad-boyedness of Mercutio is in direct conflict with her growing affinity with Benvolio. Mercutio wishes to make a conquest of Rosaline (as is his wont) and it makes for a somewhat involving (if entirely predictable) story.

I found this book to be rather more enjoyable (still somewhat fluffy tho) than Dating Hamlet (perhaps the experience of a freshman novel matured Fiedler…) (but i did find the trivialization of Romeo and Juliet’s love somewhat annoying~even though i once wrote a term paper for my Theatre History class about how their relationship was one more of adolescent attraction than true love~much the same concept, but it was my concept; therefore all that much better!). This novel was much truer to the original play (perhaps easier to do when using more minor characters). But one does wonder at the eventual “collapse” of the all independent, feminist women in these type of books, when love conquers all…oh well (some of us are so happily single we just can’t understand…

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