Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Juliet's Answer

Juliet’s Answer: One Man’s Search for Love and the Elusive Cure for Heartbreak by Glenn Dixon

     Glenn Dixon has taught Romeo and Juliet to his high school classes for over twenty years.  He knows the story inside out. When his own love life just can’t seem to take off, in despair, he travels to Verona, Italy, the home of Romeo and Juliet to clear his mind. Where else would one who is disappointed in love go for answers?
     In Verona, at Juliet’s house, there is a group of women who consider themselves the secretaries of Juliet.  They answer the thousands of letters written to Juliet and either mailed or left in the courtyard of her home. These letters are all about finding, keeping, grieving the loves of life.  From young girls to grown men, from all over the world, they write to Juliet. 
     While Glenn is in Verona he volunteers to help answer these letters.  All letters with a return address are answered by the secretaries of Juliet and these secretaries are always in need of help.  They agree to let Glenn become one of their group and he begins to look for love between the lines.  He questions what is love? He must give a listening ear and a compassionate heart to every letter’s writer and while doing so he questions love all the more.  He wanders the streets of Verona and learns about the real Romeo and Juliet. We are treated to a walking tour of Verona by Mr. Dixon that takes us to the sites of the real Romeo and Juliet, we live in the neighborhoods and eat at the best pizzeria, drinking the espresso thick as pudding.  We climb the stairs of Juliet’s house and stand on the balcony and feel his pain and his hope.   
     But finally, he must return home to his life and his classroom.  And once again he is disappointed in love but reinvigorated by his students. And once again he turns to Juliet and the secretaries when he returns to Verona, this time with the intention of living there.  But this time, it’s different.
     Juliet’s Answer is a memoir told with hope, humor and the despair of finding a special someone, for we do believe, as he does, that he will grow old alone, penning answers to letters written to a young girl.   
     I couldn’t help but think as I read this, “What a perfect Valentine gift!”  That’s not to say it’s schmaltzy.  It isn’t. It’s full of hope. 

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