Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

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"Threads of history and fairytale are richly intertwined to form this spellbinding story."

Juliet Marillier

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Reviewed: 23 August 2020

Bitter Greens is an exquisite and fascinating story that weaves together the lives of three extraordinary women and the magic of one compelling fairy tale.

 

Written by Australian author, Kate Forsyth and published in 2012 by Vintage Press. It won the American libraries Association prize for Historical Fiction in 2015.

 

This captivating historical fiction braids together the lives of Charlotte-Rose, Selena and Margherita bringing to life a re-imaging of Rapunzel. Set against the lavishness of the French court in Versailles and the richness of Renaissance Venice, Bitter Greens evokes romance and magic. It binds together historical moments and enchantment with magnificent storytelling.

 

Charlotte- Rose de la Force is banished to a convent by the Sun King Louis XIV after a string of failed and scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she meets an old nun who tells her the story of a young girl promised to a sorcerous by her parents to repay a debt. 

 

The ancient story of Rapunzel is brought to life in this stunning and mesmerising tale. Filled with dark magic and lavish desire, it is the redemptive power of love that makes this story a delight to read.

 

I found the historical elements in the book intriguing. Forsyth was meticulous in threading in historical elements through the character’s actions and observations. You were immediately immersed in the rich social and cultural worlds of 17th century Versailles and Paris, the seclusion of a medieval Convent and Venice during the Renaissance. 

 

The characters are crafted with pure authenticity and unique in their personalities and voice. Forsyth’s creative descriptions and character actions ignited my imagination and they lived in vivid reality as I read. The use of French and Italian terms was sprinkled in to compliment the cultural and social domains of the three women. I loved the use of genuine language and phrases to enhance the worlds within this story.

 

Fairy tales are my passion and obsession. I have always been intrigued by the story of a beautiful young girl imprisoned in a tower by an evil witch. Bitter Greens offers a clever and romantic imagining of Rapunzel. For me, it has become an enchanting companion to the original tale.

 

 

I have given this book a five-star rating.

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