Ever lose yourself in a good book? Well, Mimi Wallingford does, literally. Yes, Saving Juliet By Suzanne Selfors is another lost in the literary world story. Suspend your disbelief, my friends, and step onto the Cobblestones of Verona and into the pages of William Shakespeare's excellent and lamentable tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.
Publication Date: January 22, 2008
Mimi Wallingford, Great Granddaughter of Adelaide Wallingford, has the life that most girls dream about, playing Juliet opposite teen heartthrob Troy Summer on Broadway in Shakespeare’s famous play. Unfortunately, she has no desire to be an actress, a fact her mother can’t seem to grasp. But when she and Troy are magically thrust into Shakespeare’s Verona, they experience the feud between the Capulets and Montagues first hand. Mimi realizes that she and Juliet have more in common than Shakespeare’s script—they are both fighting for futures of their own choosing. Mimi feels compelled to help her and with Troy’s unexpected help, hopes to give Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy a happily-ever-after-ending.
While this is a literary vehicle I see frequently, Suzanne Selfors has not disappointed. Mimi Wallingford is a legacy in the theater world. She has been home-schooled because she is a stage actress and star of all the productions in the Wallingford theater, her family legacy. She is expected to go to the Theater Institute for drama in college and then one day take over the theater from her mother. The problem is, she doesn't want to be an actress. And the theater isn't doing well.
Enter stage right, leading man and Romeo, Troy Summer, a teen idol and heartthrob. He is drop-dead gorgeous, arrogant and is egocentric. He has a different girl on his arm every week. While Mimi can't help the attraction she feels for him, she gives him the cold shoulder and ignores him except when they are on stage together. She is Juliet to his Romeo.
Mimi's mother is domineering, feels she knows what is best for Mimi and makes decisions for Mimi whether or not Mimi consents. She is also quick to lay the guilt trip on. Mimi also finds out her mother is embezzling funds from her trust fund.
Mimi is feeling trapped. She was expecting to go to California to visit her aunt who is in the medical profession, but her mother cancels the trip because Mimi is needed to make a DVD of the stage production of Romeo and Juliet. She heads home to find a package from her aunt that contains a necklace with a charm reputed to hold the ashes of William Shakespeare's quill. When she shows up for the final performance, her mother demands she remove the necklace as it is not period. In an act of defiance, probably her only act of defiance, she refuses. An argument ensues and she wishes she were anywhere but here. The vial breaks, she steps out the back stage door in winter onto the sunny cobbles of Verona where she is recognized as a Capulet by the colors of her garment.
Mimi steps into Romeo and Juliet's Verona. She wanders aimlessly under the misconception that she is dreaming, but the physical reality teaches her otherwise. It is the night of the big Capulet party where Juliet meets Romeo. Mimi is espied by a Capulet guard and taken forcefully to Capulet house where guests have been streaming in all weak. After an interview with Lady Capulet, she is told she will share a room with Juliet as there are no more empty rooms. What she realizes is that she is, in fact, in the story of Romeo and Juliet, but it is not Will Shakespeare's version. Events are not fixed and by Mimi entering the story, she has altered it. As an example, the characters do not speak Elizabethan English. They speak more common English. Because Mimi accompanies Juliet to the party, Juliet does not meet Romeo that night and the whole story becomes skewed. Matters are complicated when she is thrown out of Capulet House and banished from the city, but even more problematic is that Troy followed her and was wounded by Tybalt. He is infirmed at Friar Lawrence's and when he awakens, starts threatening law suits and is unconvinced when Mimi tries to explain their situation.
What Mimi comes to realize is that she is writing the story. She is changing the story by every action she takes. She has promised to help Juliet and wants Juliet's story to have a happy ending, but realizes if she can't get the story back on track there will be no hope for her or Troy to get back home.