Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why did Lois Leveen write Juliet's Nurse?

In the Atria NewsRoom, they are fascinated by all things books, especially hearing about how their writers got their inspiration.

Here’s a sneak peek at the story behind the story of Juliet’s Nurse from award-winning author Lois Leveen.

If you’re intrigued, you can preorder Juliet’s Nurse today, and have it waiting for you on September 23.

During the long period of writing a novel, you don’t know what compliments—or criticism—you’ll get once it’s done. And you definitely don’t know which will mean the most to you.

Now that Juliet’s Nurse is finally being read and reviewed, I’m especially struck by people who say they wish the book existed when they were in high school, struggling to slog through Romeo and Juliet.

Should I, a former university faculty member who spent over a decade earning degrees in history and literature, be offended when readers say Shakespeare just seemed too hard? Not at all!

Anyone who’s ever tried to teach Shakespeare to adolescents, as I have, knows how daunting the language and style can be for teens and twenty-somethings (and, um, maybe for their parents, too). But grappling with unfamiliar language and difficult concepts is an important part of learning. As an educator, I’m happy to have any book or tool or lesson plan I can use to make that difficult part easier. So it’s no surprise that teachers and school librarians are already ordering it, even though Juliet’s Nurse isn’t a YA novel; it’s written for adult readers.

Yes, I wrote Juliet’s Nurse for readers who, whether they loved studying Romeo and Juliet or hated it, haven’t read Shakespeare’s most famous play in years. Because it’s written from a twenty-first century sensibility, it helps readers make sense of what was happening in Romeo and Juliet, and particularly how it affects the nurse, who as a mother-figure to Juliet is hardly a minor character. The nurse has the largest number of lines after the title characters, and Juliet actually speaks more of her lines to the nurse than she does to Romeo. 

So if you’re looking for a book-to-school special (after all, your house may be a touch quieter now that the kids have somewhere else to be all day), try Juliet’s Nurse, the novel-lovers way to brush up your Shakespeare!

Learn more about Juliet’s Nurse:

Download the Reading Group Guide:



Award-winning author Lois Leveen dwells in the spaces where literature and history meet.  Her work has appeared in numerous literary and scholarly journals, as well as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Bitch magazine, The Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, and on NPR.  Lois gives talks about writing and history at universities, museums, and libraries around the country.  She lives in Portland, Oregon, with two cats, one Canadian, and 60,000 honeybees.  
Visit her online at and

Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen is on sale September 23, 2014


  1. Too bad I passed up the chance to pick this book up at the BEA.

    ENJOY if you read it.

  2. I'm reading this now from netgalley and so far, it's great!

  3. It looks very good.

    Thanks for stopping, Susan.

  4. That looks good. I love Romeo and Juliet.


  5. It does, Janie.

    I wish I had the book.

    Oh well. Can't have them all. :)

    Thanks for stopping.