by Natasha Solomons
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Pub Date 12 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2023
SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, Sourcebooks Landmark
The most exciting historical retelling of 2023: a subversive, powerful untelling of Romeo and Juliet by New York Times bestselling author Natasha Solomons
Was the greatest ever love story a lie?
The first time Romeo Montague sees young Rosaline Capulet he falls instantly in love. Rosaline, headstrong and independent, is unsure of Romeo's attentions but with her father determined that she join a convent, this handsome and charming stranger offers her the chance of a different life.
Soon though, Rosaline begins to doubt all that Romeo has told her. She breaks off the match, only for Romeo's gaze to turn towards her cousin, thirteen-year-old Juliet. Gradually Rosaline realizes that it is not only Juliet's reputation at stake, but her life .With only hours remaining before she will be banished behind the nunnery walls, will Rosaline save Juliet from her Romeo? Or can this story only ever end one way?
Shattering everything we thought we knew about Romeo and Juliet, Fair Rosaline is the spellbinding prequel to Shakespeare's best known tale, which exposes Romeo as a predator with a long history of pursuing much younger girls. Bold, lyrical, and chillingly relevant, Fair Rosaline reveals the dark subtext of the timeless story of star-crossed lovers: it's a feminist revision that will enthrall readers of bestselling literary retellings such as Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell and Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese.
"Irresistible. An excellent spin on a timeless classic." —Jennifer Saint, Sunday Times bestselling author of Ariadne
"I have not been able to stop thinking about this book . . . Fair Rosaline is a gripping, spellbinding and wonderfully immersive book - and one that truly makes you think. I would be very surprised if everyone is not talking about it.." —Elodie Harper, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Wolf Den
"A brilliant, feminist re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet, Fair Rosaline is a gorgeously written version of Verona from Juliet's cousin, Rosaline's, point of view. What does Romeo truly look like through the eyes of a woman on the periphery of the original story? Natasha Solomons skillfully shows us another version of the star-crossed lovers - and the Romeo --we all think we know. I absolutely devoured this thought-provoking, female-centric take on Shakespeare." — Jillian Cantor, USA Today bestselling author of Beautiful Little Fools
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 168 members
A sharply seductive, fresh retelling of Romeo and Juliet.
The reader is swept off their feet alongside Rosaline when she meets handsome, broad-shouldered Romeo Montague at a party. Rosaline, enjoying her last few days of freedom before entering a nunnery, is eager for anything that could help her escape her boring fate. Her chemistry with Romeo is electrifying, he gives her sweet tokens and knows just the right words to say. When Rosaline starts to notice red flags, it's worth ignoring for another hour spent in Romeo's arms. But when Romeo turns his sights to her thirteen-year-old cousin Juliet, Rosaline is furious.
This retelling felt very fresh due to the new point of view. It's fun to see Rosaline given a voice in the story. When Rosaline turns from lovesick to sick of love, she becomes a force to be reckoned with. I love how all the original characters are there - Tybalt, Nurse, Juliet - but their personalities leap off the page in a way they never could in the original Shakespeare. The descriptions of the decadent parties, lush gardens and romantic balconies will transport the reader to another time.
After reading this feminist retelling of Romeo and Juliet, you'll never see the characters the same way again.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
this was such a good retelling, I loved the use of Romeo and Juliet. The characters felt like the same characters from the original tale, it had what I was looking for in this type of book. Natasha Solomons has a great writing style and created characters that I knew and still be unique. It had a great overall story and I'm glad I got to read this.
"She had walked beneath this image of the wheel a thousand times and paid it no heed, but now, as she stared up at it, Rosaline wondered where upon fortune’s wheel she was fixed. Was she the happy soul, hoisted just before the midnight hour, about to marry and enjoy fate’s happy gifts? Or was the wheel turning and she already spinning, poised to fall?"
10/10 would reckoned to anyone who loves romance! This book hooked me in with the characters, the plot and drama. I love the retelling of Romeo and Juliet but with Rosaline before Juliet was a thing.
This book was gifted to be by the publisher through NetGallery, all opinions and reviews are my own. #NetGallery
Fair Rosaline is such a good book! If you are a fan of Romeo and Juliet and enjoy retellings, then this book is for you. It is definitely darker than the original story and very entertaining. I also really love that Rosaline finally got her own story.
I am a fan of Shakespeare so the subject matter of this book is what initially drew me in. I was surprised at how much I loved it!! I loved the POV of Rosaline and the fact that not all stories are what they seem. I heard once that the person with the power is the version that gets told and believed, and this book made me think of that. I’ve already recommended it to my sister!!!
Oh, what a deliciously dark twist on the original play. In this version, the villains from Romeo & Juliet are our heroes and vice versa. The author cleverly uses many of the same lines from Shakespeare's play but are spoken by different characters, giving them new meanings. The plot builds slowly just as Shakespeare's plays do, with the action exploding in Act III. This brilliantly follows the main points of the original yet gives us a new vision through the eyes of Rosaline.
Is this a feminist retelling? Of course, but I think Shakespeare would approve. After all, he was unique in writing female characters that were smart & strong-willed, refusing to live their lives completely controlled by the patriarchy of their time. There are glimpses of the Me Too movement here and it's a natural fit in this context. Even reading about the plague as it is used in the plot now feels much like our struggles as a society with COVID. Shakespeare wrote for the common man and this book only confirms his brilliance to me.
I taught Romeo & Juliet as well as other Shakespearean plays for decades and I loved this fractured version in which our heroines decide to save themselves, as Romeo is hoisted by his own petard. It's glorious and sends the right message to young women. I'll be buying copies for my daughters, granddaughter, and a few former students as soon as it's published!
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this ARC. The review is my own.
Thank you, SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, Sourcebooks Landmark, and NetGalley!
I liked Rosaline as a student reading R&J for class, and was always hurt how she was spoken of. She was going off to be a nun, she was the Capulet Romeo first professed to love, and was so quickly forgotten when he met Juliet. He'd just been sulking Rosaline was going off to a nunnery and spurning him, whereas to me, it seemed as if she was just. . . chilling and not that into him.
He then imprints onto her child cousin, and that always made me uncomfortable. Of course her love for him was true, but how was Romeo's, when he kills her cousin, when they've just met? I did not necessarily cast him as the villain, as I knew that to be the families in the feud, who did not realize and did not look to their tormented children.
Instead here, Romeo is attracted to young girls and his power over them, moving from one to another. He's a sexual predator, supported by his Friar friend, and he hurts girls he passes off to others. I also appreciate too (and I am certain this was purposeful, as Natasha Solomons is Jewish) how very Xtian it was, with the antisemitism of "elites" running underage rings conspiracy. A church was used, a New Testament, a friar, and fair looks of the men involved were repeatedly emphasized.
Beautiful here, was the relationship of Rosaline and Catalina, as well as Rosaline and Juliet. The girls are young teens, Juliet hiding her toys and trying to seem adult, Rosaline dealing with the grief of losing her mother and leaning on another mother figure.
love this take on a classic. Why not take a new look at an old favourite in a new perspective. great use of building up side characters.
Thank you NetGalley for the eARC. I am a lover of history so to hear this story from another perspective was right up my alley! Once i started i could not put it down! Romeo was a man-whore!?! Yes we knew there was Rosaline before Juliet but wow! This story was so captivating I encourage all to read it!
I love how FAIR ROSALINE turns the traditional story on its head and gives us a fresh new viewpoint. Solomons does a great job with pacing and keeping the reader's interest as the storyline develops. Her extensive research is incorporated seamlessly, and the scenes are evocative and transportive.
Due to the ages of the characters, at times this feels more like a YA novel than one for adults. However, ultimately this means it should appeal to a wide range of audience.
I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I went into this book expecting something campy and fun like the new Disney+ movie Rosaline. Instead I got the play Shakespeare never wrote (or frankly could have ever written). This gorgeous retelling is done in the style of the original Romeo and Juliet and done so well that I could barely tell what was Solomons' words and what was an original line from the play. It adds depth and dimension to all of the characters, not just the forgotten Rosaline. I loved the choice to draw inspiration from Shakespeare's other Rosaline(d)s (who number among some of my favourite Shakespeare heroines) and the result is a unique, wonderful female lead. This is a book for lovers of Maggie O'Farrell or Kristin Hannah. There are no swooning maidens to be found here.
Ripped from Shakespeare’s hands, this retelling was masterful and incredibly ingenious.
This book surmises that perhaps Romeo wasn’t the man depicted as he was in Romeo and Juliet, but a predatory man with an insatiable appetite for gaining live of young, impressionable women… and I LOVED it!
This is by far, the best Shakespearean retelling and one of the best retellings in general, that I have ever read. It just makes so much more sense. While it’s a fictional tale conjured from another fictional tale, the story of Romeo and Juliet had become so real, and I think this way of portraying the story was absolutely perfect.
Instead of hearing of Rosaline through passing stories, we get a story straight from her mouth. We see her go through all of the motions of falling for the man who was very clearly grooming her. The different, nobler side of Tybalt was, maybe, one of my favorite parts of this story. And then, to see as Rosaline must watch the man she loved fall for someone else, the way we all know he does with Juliet…
This book was fantastic and I absolutely recommend it!
Ladies, beware the Romeos of the world. Oh my goodness, this is how the story should have been told - this is such a refreshing and relatable perspective on what women deal with and our resilience. Bravo!
Gorgeous and thought-provoking, Fair Rosaline is a rare beast: a new spin on a Shakespearean classic that actually lives up to the designation of clever and sharp. Already recommending this to every woman I know who swooned over Romeo as an impressionable teen.
This book was so gorgeously written and filled with palpable tension throughout. Loved FAIR ROSALINE and will be recommending it all over the place. I also appreciated how deeply the author delved into Shakespeare's Rosaline/d(s) characters and all the callbacks to his plays. FAIR ROSALINE is clearly a labor of love—and it shows.
I’ve been obsessed with the story of Romeo and Juliet since I first read it in high school and I have to say I adore this retelling from the perspective of Rosaline! As the author said this tale had always been told from the perspective of the men in the story so this take was refreshing and probably more honest of how women were treated at the time. Rosaline tells her side of falling in love with the handsome and charming Romeo just to have him leave her for her younger cousin without any regard for her. And from there the classic story is told from her side and how she does her best to help Juliet out of a bad romance.
This is such a beautifully crafted historical novel. Solomons' writing is poetic, transporting readers to a bygone era. A captivating tale of love, loss, and resilience that will leave you spellbound.
This was an absolutely lovely book and I loved the twist to the Romeo and Juliet story told from the eyes of a character we learn very little of in the original. Rosaline is a quick-witted and wonderful character who I found myself really connecting with throughout the whole story. The dialog of the story was delightfully Shakespearean while mixing with the more modern writing of the actions perfectly. I also really enjoyed seeing Romeo as a villain of the story rather than a tragic hero, so bonus points for that.
We’ve all read her name at the beginning of Shakespeare’s most romantic play — and then promptly forgotten her. But this book examines “Fair Rosaline” — and that supposedly romantic story — in a new and refreshingly feminist light. In this retelling, Rosalind is, in fact, Juliet’s cousin. When the much older and disturbingly predatory Romeo moves on the famously young Juliet, it is not revenge but love that launches Rosalind into action. The story looks the same to the outward eye, but readers end the story with a different truth.
Natasha Solomons takes ideas that have been right in front of audiences for centuries and questions them from boldly progressive and feminist perspective. In the post-MeToo era, she forces the reader to face uncomfortable facts about characters long assumed to be peers in a young, consensual love affair. However, we then are led to think more about Shakespeare’s larger intentions; he mentions Juliet’s age numerous times and Romeo’s none and leaves several gaps — not holes — in the plot. Overall, a superbly written, historical retelling that provokes far more intellectual thought than one would think. 5/5.
okay, this book was so adorable!! i know a lot of people did not like this one, but i really really did! it was so fun and sweet and precious! thank you so much to netgalley for letting me read this one early!!!
More of an untelling than retelling, this story of Rosaline sheds light on one of the more mysterious characters from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Not much is known about Rosaline, but this feminist prequel brings depth and understanding to her character, and reveals more about Romeos character, too.
Although she is an unseen character in the original R&J, her role is important: Romeo's unrequited love for Rosaline leads him to try to catch a glimpse of her at a gathering hosted by the Capulet family, which is where he first spots Juliet (who also happens to be Rosaline’s cousin). In the play, Romeo reveals that Rosaline has renounced love and vowed to lead a life of chastity. That original text never gave her the avenue to reciprocate and freely express her emotions, romantic or otherwise, and while her fate beyond the story is unknown, the implication is that she remained alone. This book explores her feelings and choices, and gives readers a better glimpse into who Rosaline Capulet truly is.
Turning everything you ever knew about Romeo on its head, this book is a must-read for lovers of Shakespeare, retellings, and historical fiction.
I have been a fan of Natasha Solomons books for a while now, so I was thrilled to receive a copy of her retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of Rosaline.
In Shakespeare’s telling, Rosaline is very much offstage, in Ms. Solomon’s she is front and center and ready to play. Rosaline’s beloved mother has died of the plague and her father has decided it is cheaper to send her to a nunnery that to find her a willing husband and have to produce a dowry. Enter Romeo the stuff of many a fair maiden’s dreams, at first Rosaline is enamored and then, not so much. She sees the selfishness and arrogance in Romeo so she breaks off the relationship, but then Romeo sets his sights on her thirteen year old naive cousin Juliet and Rosaline knows that she must step in to prevent a tragedy. With the usual cast of characters, Nurse, Tybalt, Paris, Mercutio and of course the Friar this retelling should be familiar, but is not as the characters and motives are viewed by a different lens, Rosaline’s and she has something to say. the Capulets and the Montagues will never be the same.
I enjoyed the different take on Romeo and Juliet and the motives of the main characters. I would highly recommend this for someone who like alternate views of beloved classics.
Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher Sourcebooks Landmark and the author for the chance to read and review this book.
Captivated is too small and weak a word to describe Natasha Solomon’s stunning novel FAIR ROSALIE, an incredibly creative and marvelous fresh perspective on the legend of Romeo and Juliet, Through the eyes of Rosalie Capulet, cousin to Juliet, I have walked the streets, been overwhelmed by the stench, endured the boundaries, and delighted in relationships with kindred spirits. Throughout, I enjoyed lyrical, beautiful prose, taut plot, and the nearly unbearable tension in the knowing and the not knowing what will happen next. This book is a masterwork, a genuine contribution to book clubs and readers everywhere. I am recommending it to all I know, pressing it into their hands: “You must read this book.” I received a copy of this book and these opinions are my own, unbiased thoughts.
Some of us remember reading Romeo & Juliet in high school. Most of us probably remember the movie we watched in class better than the actual play.
A fewer number of us studied the play in college, and some of us now read it every year because we teach it. (Me. That's me.)
I've never been a fan, honestly. It seems too trite to call it a love story. After all, what do we really know about Romeo? Or Juliet, for that matter? All we really know is how it ends.
This book is a commanding reality check. Rosaline makes a powerful main character, and offers a story to be reckoned with! Imagine, if you will, that Rosaline is given a bit of a Rumspringa before being sent away to a nunnery. Not in a fun-adventure way; but in a dark desire-filled desperation way.
The Montague family reminds me of the Prince Prospero in Poe's Masque of the Red Death.
"Why you would want to go to that dreadful Montague place, I cannot fathom."
Rosaline smiled. "It whispers of dark delights."
The Capulets seem incredibly shallow, overall. Juliet is sweet, but a bit vapid. The whole family, especially Rosaline's father, is so wrapped up in appearances and status and family fortune.
And Romeo? Well. "It was this dirty rotten city that allowed Romeo to rise and move unseen."
As Rosaline's story collides with Juliet's, it's possible you'll never see the Bard's original in the same way.
The remarkable thing about this book, however, is that the author manages to keep the language and cadence of Shakespeare's writing. It's incredibly clever. And, the author explains the old feud between the families, while crafting a unique story. Not only that, the author gives us fresh eyes on the time period and what life was really like for young women of the era.