Let me begin by saying I read all of this book except the last 30 pages in one morning. I had to leave for a family function or I would have finished the whole thing, you can bet your boots on that. A week or so back I had grabbed this from the library (off my ever growing reading list) not remembering exactly why I had put it on my list. I am sure I saw a review someplace that sparked my interest but then again maybe someone told me about it. The point is, no matter what drove me to it, this book was worth the wait.
The story centers around Juliet Montague and her conservative Jewish family living in England. The book starts in 1958 as the world is changing. Normally I find it unnecessary to give my own narration of the plot (that’s what Google is for) but to me the back cover blurb does not do this book justice. Yes all they say is true but I feel they miss the heart of the book.
The blurb states, “A wealthy young artist asks to paint her portrait, and Juliet, moved by a powerful desire to be seen, enters the burgeoning art world of London in the swinging sixties.” What they leave off is she has a powerful desire to be seen and to MATTER. She doesn’t want to be a show piece, she wants to be an equal. She doesn’t enter this bold new world as a simpering model but a powerhouse, a force to notice, drawing artists and art lovers to her in equal amounts. No matter it is a man’s world, she would make it in her own way and never loose sight of herself.
Juliet is not your typical heroine or female role model. She doesn’t change the whole world, simply her own. She doesn’t discover herself in a flash, but in a slow manner as we all do. She is extraordinarily ordinary. I could be her in a different life.
Something with her resonated me. Her joi de vivre, her spirit, her tenacity. I want that for me. I want my children to say I lived, and I loved. Never that I simply existed. Like Juliet. Her life wasn’t popular, her choices alienated her, but they were her choices. And while she had regrets, she did not let them paralyze her.
The writing itself was so vivid, and really it would have to be for a story that describes so much art. I could make an image in my head of every scene, like my very own movie. The characters were so believable and multifaceted I felt like I knew them. I hated them at times, loved them, pitied them, and ached for them.
This book ended far too soon for me, I wanted to keep reading and keeping living their lives. But sadly it did have to end, and I lived a lifetime in that morning of reading.