Kate Forsyth is my favourite author. I might have mentioned before that her Witches of Eileanan series is what kindled the beginnings of my library and reading addiction.
So whenever she releases a new book I’m usually waiting eagerly at the book store for one of the first copies.
Today I want to share my thoughts on one of her newest novels titled Bitter Greens which is a unique retelling of the story of Rapunzel. I was completely hooked by the intertwined stories. As a huge fan of Forsyth’s writing style I devoured the entire book within a number of days, loving the language, the scenery and the characters.
The story follows three women braided together to create a compelling tale of desire, obsession, black magic and the redemptive power of love. True to the ‘Fairy Tale’ genre as it should be.
Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished by King Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. She is comforted by an old nun, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of Bitter Greens.
Margherita‘s father steals a handful of parsley, wintercress and rapunzel from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off … unless he and his wife give away their little girl.
Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death, sixty-four years later. Selena is at the centre of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.
I really enjoyed reading this book and seeing the three stories unfold. I also learnt that even though Bitter Greens is a work of imagination, Forsyth used known facts of Charlotte-Rose de la Force’s true life story. Click here for more info on that.
There are definite dark moments in this one, so if you like to keep things light you might want to give this one a miss. I felt that the darker moments helped you feel compassion for the different characters and their story. I felt these sections made the story feel true to its time.
Praise for Bitter Greens;
“Threads of history and folklore are richly intertwined to form this spellbinding story. Kate Forsyth has excelled herself with Bitter Greens. Compulsively unputtdownable.” – Juliet Marillier
“A lovely stew of sex, fairytales and, well, sex really. Forsyth does a masterly job in controlling her story of witches and palace intrigues. Telling the story of Rapunzel and its attendant themes from several viewpoints, she has created a darkly compelling novel.” – Dianne Dempsey, The Age