Book Review: Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons

About the Book:

Title: Fair Rosaline

Author: Natasha Solomons

Page Length: 336

Publication Date: Sept. 12, 2023

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Synopsis: Was the greatest ever love story a lie?

The first time Romeo Montague sees young Rosaline Capulet he falls instantly in love.

Rosaline, headstrong and independent, is unsure of Romeo’s attentions but with her father determined that she join a convent, this handsome and charming stranger offers her the chance of a different life.

Soon though, Rosaline begins to doubt all that Romeo has told her. She breaks off the match, only for Romeo’s gaze to turn towards her cousin, thirteen-year-old Juliet. Gradually Rosaline realises that it is not only Juliet’s reputation at stake, but her life.

With only hours remaining before she will be banished behind the nunnery walls, will Rosaline save Juliet from her Romeo? Or can this story only ever end one way?

A subversive, powerful untelling of Shakespeare’s best-known tale, narrated by a fierce, forgotten voice: this is Rosaline’s story.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon, and I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through my links.

My Review:

Before Romeo loved Juliet, he loved Fair Rosaline.

Romeo and Juliet is one of my most-read and taught plays, so I was really curious about Fair Rosaline. A unique spin on a classic tale, Fair Rosaline gives a voice to a glossed-over character in William Shakespeare’s tragedy. Rosaline is the young woman Romeo loved before he met Juliet. But what do we really know about her? The cousin of Juliet, Rosaline is bound for the nunnery, and this story details the months and days leading up to it.

After the death of her mother, Rosaline’s father informs her she is to join a convent and will enter in twelve days. Rosaline is devastated, but she has no other options. In a time when most women had no autonomy, Rosaline decides to make the most of her last days of freedom, and she attends one of their enemy’s parties. The Montagues are known for their lavish parties and gardens, and it is here where Rosaline first meets Romeo.

Rosaline’s relationship with Romeo blooms quickly, but she begins to question his motives after hearing some alarming rumors. And when Romeo’s interest seems to be moving toward her beloved cousin, Rosaline knows she only has hours to save Juliet from Romeo’s clutches. It’s an imaginative and subversive retelling that I won’t soon forget.

The story follows the overall plot of Romeo and Juliet and includes some of the more poignant scenes but from Rosaline’s perspective. It was so interesting to see the scenes from a different perspective and with a darker and more devious spin. I like how the source material was integrated into the story while still feeling new and unique, and I think it’s because the focus isn’t on Romeo and Juliet’s love story. Instead, it’s about Rosaline’s journey of self-discovery, her relationship with her family, including her parents and two beloved cousins, and her desire to be seen and remembered.

Some of the characters’ motivations and personalities have severely changed from the play, which I found intriguing. Romeo, in particular, is characterized in a much more sinister light. He’s certainly not the lovesick puppy we meet in Shakespeare’s version. The Friar is quite different too, and his involvement in some despicable acts contrasts the pious man introduced in the play. And Rosaline is a fully fleshed-out character, fiery and angry and determined to make her days before entering the convent count. She resents the lack of choice in her life and rejects the patriarchal society she lives in. Tybalt’s character also changed a lot and for the better. He was one of my favorite secondary characters in the story, and I liked this kinder, loving version of him.

I enjoyed this reimagining. Fair Rosaline gives a powerful voice to a voiceless woman, and includes messages about sexism, the patriarchy, autonomy, and more. Thanks so much to Sourcebooks Landmark for gifting me a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.




  • Romeo & Juliet reimagining
  • forbidden love

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons

  1. The official synopsis sounded very similar to the original play, so thanks for elaborating more in your review on what makes it different. I’m not big into Shakespeare, so I doubt I’ll read this, but I’m glad you enjoyed this spin on the classic play!

  2. Great review! I have to admit that I don’t feel any particular way about the original telling of R&J but I do enjoy retellings of it. But this reimagining sounds really intriguing, especially the change in character motivations and personalities! Glad to hear that the author did it well. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for this 🙂

    1. It was very different, Dini and unlike any other R&J reimagining I’ve read. I always saw Romeo as just a young and foolish kid, but here he is much more sinister and a bit older, which makes him feel even more predatory.

Leave a Reply