Thursday, January 26, 2017

Juliet's Answer by Glenn Dixon | Review and Blog Tour

Juliet's Answer: One Man's Search For Love and the Elusive Cure For Heartbreak by Glenn Dixon
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Published: January 10, 2017
Pages: 272
Received: from publisher for honest review

Eat, Pray, Love meets The Rosie Project in this fresh, heartwarming memoir by a man who travels to Verona and volunteers to answer letters addressed to Shakespeare’s Juliet, all in an attempt to heal his own heartbreak.

When Glenn Dixon is spurned by love, he packs his bags for Verona, Italy. Once there, he volunteers to answer the thousands of letters that arrive addressed to Juliet—letters sent from lovelorn people all over the world to Juliet’s hometown; people who long to understand the mysteries of the human heart.

Glenn’s journey takes him deep into the charming community of Verona, where he becomes involved in unraveling the truth behind Romeo and Juliet. Did these star-crossed lovers actually exist? Why have they remained at the forefront of hearts and minds for centuries? And what can they teach us about love?

When Glenn returns home to Canada and resumes his duties as an 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 had a wonderful time tagging along for Glenn's journey of discovery. It was interesting to me to follow how he chose to look at love and heartbreak, while trying to figure out how he felt about his own experiences. How amazing would it be to go to Italy and answer the letters as Juliet's Secretary? What a way to figure out love by writing your own responses to others seeking the same thing!

Between learning about love, learning that Romeo & Juliet might actually have been real people, and experiencing what it's like to learn the play Romeo & Juliet from Glenn's teaching history, it's a great mix.

It was ironic that Glenn doesn't really believe in fate, yet teaches his students about the "star-crossed lovers" each year. I can only assume that his ideals on the topic have changed given the outcome of this story - both regarding his time in Verona (with learning that R&J might be real people) and his love life taking a turn for the better. I loved that he was learning about the possibility of them really existing at the same time as he stumbles into something worth jumping in feet first for.

I highly enjoyed the sections where he's showing how he teaches his class Romeo & Juliet. He really gets the students involved and thinking. Some, that you wouldn't expect to enjoy it, seem to be hanging onto his every word and are excited to learn what happens next. Even debating scenes with classmates. That is an amazing teaching experience.

The sections that didn't work as well for me were the research sections, a little too scientific and analytical for me, but I know that the author did research to try to understand love and heartbreak. So it fits. Possibly this was his way of proving that fate doesn't exist? That it's all down to hormones, chemical make up and what not. It's funny to me, as I feel that after all of this research he did, he really didn't need to use any of that knowledge gained. It came down to how he felt and the things he learned while writing letters to others. Funny how life does that to people.

My favourite quotes from the book are as follows:

"Maybe, that you can choose to be happy. Maybe that what you need to do is love yourself first. Then, I guess, others can follow your example." pg. 229

"... every time I answer a letter, I'm really answering myself." pg. 229

This story was captivating in its descriptions of Verona, educational in seeing Glenn's method of teaching Shakespeare and romantic following his journey to love. Highly recommended to those who love memoirs and travel!

About the Author:
Like a cross between Bill Bryson and Malcolm Gladwell, Dixon has written travel articles and cultural pieces for National Geographic, the New York Post, the Globe and Mail and Psychology Today.

His first book was Pilgrim in the Palace of Words: a journey through the 6000 languages of Earth.

He lives and works in Calgary, Canada. (source)

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