Verona, 1499, a city torn by a vendetta between the houses of Capulet and Montague. Then a secret love affair begins as Juliet, facing a forced marriage, meets the young son of their rival house.
A story all the world’s familiar with, but retold here mainly from Juliet’s point of view, and with the same kind of changes to the plot that Shakespeare himself performed on the Italian originals that preceded him.
As some of you will know, this was first written as a one-man audio play for that amazing one-man repertory theatre Richard Armitage, commissioned by Audible. The resulting work, now nominated for an audio Oscar, the Audie, prompted lots of people, Richard included, to ask… when’s the book coming out?
To be honest I hadn’t even thought of it at the time. Big publishers tend not to like material that comes out as audio first, and in the book world I tend to wear the label of crime or thriller writer, not a historical author.
And next came a request from Audible in Germany for the story to be turned back into a full-length dramatic production. But the pleas for a book kept coming in… so here it is thanks to a young, energetic British publisher the Dome Press.
Let me stress this a new work. While it follows the original audio in theme and quite a lot of the prose, it takes a few different turns, partly because the original was a script and also because I learned a few tweaks along the way with each new iteration of the work. So you can’t listen to it word-for-word against the Audible version. There’s also a new foreword written by Richard.
It’s available in the UK in hardback and paperback from all the usual sources, including Goldsboro where you will find signed copies available. It’s a very handsome production, for which I’m grateful to Dome’s publisher Rebecca Lloyd and the founder David Headley. I’m also indebted to Audible for all the support I’ve received in getting the project off the ground in the first place, and, of course, to Richard for both his amazing performance in audio and the insights he added from his perspective as an actor.
You can find lots of background material about the book here. If you feel like visiting Verona and seeing some of the real-life locations — it’s a lovely place and I recommend it — you can read a few travel tips from my visits here. And here are some of the key locations you can explore by the medium of Google Maps too.