Monday, January 30, 2017

Blog Tour: Juliet's Answer

I'm not a Shakespeare fan. I never really enjoyed it when we had to read one of his plays in high school English class (except the time we had to make up a scene for Macbeth and my friends and I decided that the three witches got their prophecies from fortune cookies). I don't remember anything beyond the highlights of Romeo and Juliet. I hardly recall the Leo and Claire adaptation, to be honest. But something about Glenn Dixon's new memoir intrigued me. And once I started reading Juliet's Answer, I could hardly put it down.

Here's what this memoir is about:
Eat, Pray, Love (from a man’s perspective) meets Under the Tuscan Sun—a fresh, heartwarming story about a man who travels to Verona, where he answers letters addressed to Shakespeare’s Juliet, all in an attempt to understand heartbreak, to heal and to find love again.
In fair Verona where we lay our scene…When Glenn Dixon is spurned by love, he does something unusual. He travels to Verona, Italy, to become a scribe of Juliet, Shakespeare’s fictional character, all in an attempt to understand his heartbreak. Once there, he volunteers to answer the thousands of letters that arrive addressed to Juliet, letters sent from lovelorn people all over the world who long to understand the mysteries of the human heart.
Glenn’s journey takes him deep into the charming community of Verona, where he learns the traditions of the townspeople and becomes involved in unravelling the truth behind Romeo and Juliet—Did these star-crossed lovers actually exist? Did they live in Verona? Why have they remained at the forefront of hearts and minds for centuries? And what can they teach us about love? At the same time, we learn about Claire, Glenn’s unrequited love, the source of his heartbreak. Was she truly his soul’s match, or was she, like Rosalind in Shakespeare’s classic play, a mere infatuation who pales in comparison the moment his real Juliet enters his life?
When Glenn returns home to Canada and resumes his duties as a Grade 10 English teacher, he undertakes a lively reading of Romeo and Juliet with his students, engaging them in passions past and present. But in an intriguing reversal of fate and fortune, his students—along with an old friend—instruct the teacher on the true meaning of love, loss, and moving on.
An enthralling tale of modern-day love steeped in the romantic traditions of eras past, this is a memoir that will warm your heart.
I, like many other chick flick lovers, watched and enjoyed the 2010 Amanda Seyfried film, Letters to Juliet. That was the first time I remember hearing of Juliet's house and the letters people (mostly women) write to her. The movie barely scratched the surface of Juliet's secretaries. In fact, Juliet's Answer probably could have gone more in depth. But it's fine, almost better, that Dixon didn't because then it'd be more of a research book and less of a memoir. But Dixon gave me a much better idea of what it's like to be one of Juliet's secretaries. The idea that so many people write to a fictional character with their love problems is both heartbreaking and romantic. And that there are people who write back to those who leave a mailing address? That letter won't change the world but that response means the world to someone. 

Here's a true testament to how enthralled I was with this book. I started reading it just after the same time I got really sick. I took it with me on day 3 of a sore throat to the walk in clinic where I had to wait an hour and a half to have a doctor confirm my self-diagnosis of strep throat within about thirty seconds of examining me. Brutal and "poor little ol' me", I know :) But the time almost flew by as I kept my nose in the book and tried not to breathe on anyone. I was transported to Italy and Glenn's world as I sat on an extremely uncomfortable chair. If that doesn't say "engaging", I don't know what does.

I'm so intrigued by the fact that Romeo and Juliet may have actually existed. Had anyone else heard that before? Because I most certainly hadn't.

I think Dixon found a great balance of facts and personal experience. I really enjoyed how he put together his experience in Verona with what was happening with his love life back at home in Canada. Just one or the other wouldn't have been as engaging but weaving it together the way he did made for a great and interesting read.

And that cover? Between that and the way Dixon wrote about Verona I want to jump on a plane to Italy immediately. 

Juliet's Answer is a fairly quick and easy read but it's one that will stick with you for awhile. Glenn Dixon has written an absolutely lovely memoir that allows you into his past and his life while also educating you on a play you thought you knew. 

Now, as a bonus for my blog tour stop, here's a piece on "The Science of Love" from Glenn Dixon. Enjoy!

While writing my book, Juliet’s Answer, I looked at a lot of the research on love and much of it came down to this: love is not one single thing.  Many of the experts agree that there are at least three separate but related facets to what we might call true love, and interestingly, each facet has its own individual brain chemistry.
            The first and most obvious aspect of love is sexual attraction. It’s no surprise that this biological system is almost entirely controlled by the hormone testosterone, in both males and females. Of course, we all know that there more to love than sex, but we must admit that it’s a big part of it.
            The second facet of love in what is sometimes called the triangular theory of love is called intimacy. It’s includes touch, cuddling and hugging and kissing but it’s much more than that. This element of love also involves trust, it involves being able to share your dreams and your deepest secrets with the person you are with.  These connections are strengthened and controlled by the familiar neurotransmitters of serotonin and dopamine which light up the reward centers in our brains. A look can be enough, a gentle word or the warmth of your lover’s hand in yours.
The third facet of love is the most interesting. It is sometimes called commitment.  A wealth of research shows that there is an expiry date on the first two facets of love, a period many researchers peg at about four years. This is a part of the theory of evolutionary psychology –  the four year period being the span of time needed to bring a pregnancy to full term and then raise that child to the point where the little he or she can walk and talk and basically function in the world.  This, or so the research claims, defines an ‘window’ for many relationships, whether or not a child has been conceived.  But the third facet of love goes beyond this simple time frame. For the lucky few, love can last much longer, even an entire lifetime.  It is a matter of wanting to, a conscious decision that your life is the better for it.  It’s associated with a remarkable neuro-hormone called oxytocin.  This is the same chemical that causes goslings to imprint on the mother goose, it’s the same hormone that bonds a mother to her newborn baby and if you ever see an elderly couple walking hand in hand after all those many years, you can be sure that it is washing through their happy brains.
All these neuro-hormones and their associated neural pathways form the chemical moons that pull at the tides of love.  It’s complex of course but in this sense we are all, like Romeo and Juliet, star crossed, our fates sealed by our very own biology.

*An ARC was provided by the publisher, Simon and Schuster Canada, in exchange for a review for this blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*


  1. Oooh! I might be going to Verona on my trip so this will have to go on my pre-vacation to-read list!

  2. I loved this book too!Now I want to go to Italy!


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