#bookaday 4: Least favourite book by a favourite author

Let’s talk about Shakespeare.

I’m not going to pretend I’ve read all Shakespeare’s plays, because I haven’t, mostly because I simply couldn’t be bothered to read all the comedies in which the plot hinges on someone looking slightly like someone else. I have, however, read all the tragedies, and loved them all … except … except …

Romeo & Juliet.

I couldn’t ever suggest that Romeo & Juliet isn’t every bit as beautifully and remarkably written as anything else Shakespeare produced. It really is. It also has a famously memorable plot that addresses universal and timeless themes. I still, however, find that I greatly dislike it.

The first time I read Romeo & Juliet was as a 14-year-old at a girls’ secondary school. I imagine it was chosen for us because our teacher thought we would identify with it in some way. After all, Juliet is a teenage girl who falls in love with a handsome boy and is willing to rebel against her parents to be with him.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t really that sort of kid at 14. I just thought Juliet was as soppy and deluded as the girls in my class who insisted their hearts would never belong to anyone but Jordan from New Kids On The Block until the day the died. Romeo never seemed in the slightest bit interesting to me, and his tedious friends with their petty street disputes were arrogant idiots. As far as I was concerned, Romeo and Juliet didn’t die because they were star-cross’d lovers, they died because they were a pair of tiresome drama queens.

I’d go so far as to say that Romeo & Juliet very nearly killed my love of Shakespeare almost before it ever began (a bit like their relationship, then) but fortunately the next Shakespeare play I studied was Macbeth and I’ve never looked back since.