Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trailer Park Tuesday: Romeo and Juliet by David Hewson

Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.

We’ve all heard the story: Boy meets Girl, they fall in love, their parents object, Boy and Girl get married anyway, Boy is banished from town, Girl pretends to kill herself in order to join Boy, Boy doesn’t get the memo and thinks Girl is really dead, Boy kills himself, Girl wakes up and finds her dead lover, Girl kills herself. The End. Unhappily Ever After. For those of you who’ve never read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, I guess I just spoiled your reading (but, honestly, I don’t care; if you haven’t read the tragedy by this point in your life, then you should make like Ophelia in Hamlet and get thee to a nunnery). R & J is a time-tested, time-worn classic romantic tragedy that has become such a part of our popular culture, its original story and meaning often get lost in the superficial shortcuts we use to describe the young lovers. What we need is a fresh pen to help us see the story from a new perspective. Enter David Hewson with his vibrant and startling revision of the tale. Hewson’s Romeo and Juliet is only available as an audiobook, but it’s good enough to warrant getting a membership with Audible.com. There are many surprises in Hewson’s book (I promise not reveal the major ones); chief among them is Juliet’s character—a strong woman ahead of her time, a Renaissance feminist who does her best to stand up to her father and protest the arranged marriage with the rich, older Paris. There’s also a backstory for the kindly Friar Lawrence, whose brother turns out to be the pivotal and fateful Apothecary. All in all, Romeo and Juliet proves you can put new clothes on an old, tired body and have it look fresh as a daisy. It certainly helps to have a narrator like Richard Armitage. I was drawn to Romeo and Juliet in part due to the terrific reading Armitage gave David Copperfield earlier (and of course I’ve loved his on-screen performances in The Hobbit and North and South, among others). Though the characters’ voices are more Irish than Italian, I got used to the continental drift pretty quickly and fell headlong into the dialogue. When all is said and done, Armitage and Hewson combine forces to deliver a familiar story that sounds like we’re hearing it for the first time. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Armitage as he discusses why and how he took on this project:


  1. I saw the film with Olivia Hussey when it was released in the '60's. I was barely a teenager but it had such a profound impact on me. Romeo and Juliet is one of my top 10 pieces of literature and I don't forsee it ever bumped off my list. I will have to get David Hewson's revision. Thanks for the head's up.

    1. Terry, I saw that same movie--probably in the mid-70s--and it was my introduction to Shakespeare. I loved it...and, I'm not ashamed to admit, I developed a huge crush on Olivia Hussey. She will always be the definitive Juliet for me.