Review – When You Were Mine
  • Posted:
  • September 23, 2011
When You Were Mine 

-Portrait of Rosaline by Hugh de Twenebrokes Glazebrook-

The other day I received an ARC of an upcoming book I had never heard of – When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle. This book comes out May 2012 by Simon Pulse. It is Serle’s first book and wow, what a beginning.

This book is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, set in contemporary times and features Rosaline, Shakespeare’s erstwhile love interest for Romeo in the play. The book details Rose and Rob’s (Romeo) blossoming romance and it’s ill-fated demise when Rose’s cousin, Juliet, turns back up after a decade long absence. Juliet and Rose’s families are estranged and Juliet is seeking revenge, though Rose does not know the reason behind her cousin’s enmity. Suddenly Rose has lost him and she must adjust to a life without her best friend.

I love this play. Always have. Reading any incarnation of it is like curling up with an old friend on a couch and trading gossip and bawdy jokes. What Serle has created is a perfect blend of ultramodern drama and old world tale. This is the book that fans of Ten Things I Hate About You and Easy A will be fond of. It beautifully illustrates the difference between having people in your life and having no one at all and how much of an impact either of those choices make.

There’s a note of dramatic irony underscoring every poignant moment in this book. We know how Shakespeare wrote this story, how it ends. We know that Romeo does not end up with Rosaline. It makes the tender parts between them bittersweet. Near the end of the book the reader has become jaded with Romeo, and with Juliet as well. No surprise on this score though. By the time Serle introduces Juliet she already has about ten strikes against her. You grow to identify so much with Rose that Juliet, by comparison, is a loathsome creature; a pariah, a virago. Frankly she’s a thoroughly dislikeable trollop in this telling. For the better part of her and Rob’s romance you spend your time, as the reader, chiding Rob for his choice, for throwing over the perfect girl and taking her friendship for granted. It works though. One always wonders if Romeo and Juliet would have survived in life if they would have found either one of their potential suitors even the slightest bit attractive.

I loved the crafting of this book. I loved how Serle addresses the themes of family and friendship. I loved how she turned the tale we love into something fresh and new. My theory is that Shakespeare stories (and fairy tales) always endure because their themes are still very compelling, and this hypothesis is realized gorgeously with this book. It perfectly fits with our world.And I loved, no love, what she did with Tybalt in the context of this story. Wow.

The film rights have already sold for this book. Fox 2000 bought them. Apparently Keira Knightley is the current casting rumour for Rose. Hmmm, too old, but it could work. At this rate the movie could be in production before the book is out. We’ll see. I’m looking forward to whatever happens with this book. It’s gorgeous.

5 out of 5 stars.

– BP

– Follow the Reader –

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2011-09-23 16:57:40 Reply

How intriguing!