- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (May 19, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250070848
- ISBN-13: 978-1250070845
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 149 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #923,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bitter Greens: A Novel Paperback – May 19, 2015
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“Forsyth, a PhD candidate in fairy tale retellings, reflects her depth of knowledge in this captivating novel that enchants with its gorgeous narrative and memorable characters who discover how the choices we make define and bind us. Full of palace intrigue, dark magic, romance, and lush, evocative descriptions, this is historical fiction at its finest.” ―Library Journal (starred review)
“Fans of this type of fiction will doubtless be enchanted by the operatic nature of the stories and the fascinating historical details of life at Louis' court.” ―Booklist
“Forsyth undertakes an ambitious plot and, with a creative presentation, makes it work. She convincingly conveys a fairy tale-like quality in her writing and peppers the narrative with historical detail and some interesting twists that neatly tie together the strands of the story. This unconventional spin on a children's classic is a captivating read and unquestionably aimed toward adults.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Kate Forsyth's Bitter Greens is an enthralling concoction of history and magic, an absorbing, richly detailed, and heart-wrenching reimagining of a timeless fairytale.” ―Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's Rival
“See how three vividly drawn women cope with injustice, loneliness, fear, longing. See how they survive--or perpetrate--treachery. Surrender yourself to a master storyteller, to delicious detail and spunky heroines. Bitter Greens is a complex, dazzling achievement.” ―Susan Vreeland, New York Times bestselling author of Clara and Mr. Tiffany and Girl in Hyacinth Blue
“A magical blend of myth and history, truth and legend, Bitter Greens is one of those rare books that keeps you reading long after the lights have gone out, that carries you effortlessly to another place and time, that makes you weep and laugh and wish you could flip forward to make sure it all ends happily ever after--but for the fact that if you did so, you might miss a line, and no line of this book should be missed.” ―Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author of The Ashford Affair
“Kate Forsyth wields her pen with all the grace and finesse of a master swordsman. In Bitter Greens she conjures a lyrical fairytale that is by turns breathtaking, inspiring, poetic, and heartbreakingly lovely. Set like a jewel within the events of history, it is pure, peerless enchantment.” ―New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn
“Bitter Greens is pure enchantment–gripping and lyrical. From the high convent walls where a 17th century noblewoman is exiled, to a hidden tower which imprisons an innocent girl with very long hair, to the bitter deeds of a beautiful witch who cannot grow old–Kate Forsyth weaves an engrossing, gorgeously written tale of three women in search of love and freedom. A truly original writer, Forsyth has crafted an often terrifying but ultimately redemptive dark fairy tale of the heart.” ―Stephanie Cowell, American Book Award-winning author of Claude & Camille
“Kate Forsyth's Bitter Greens is not only a magnificent achievement that would make any novelist jealous, it's one of the most beautiful paeans to the magic of storytelling that I've ever read.” ―C.W. Gortner, author of The Queen's Vow and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
“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, national bestselling author of Flame of Sevenwaters and Heart's Blood
“A must for all lovers of historical fiction--Philippa Gregory, watch out!” ―Pamela Freeman, Aurealis Award-winning author of Ember and Ash
“The best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter.” ―Kim Wilkins, author of Angel of Ruin and The Autumn Castle
About the Author
Kate Forsyth is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than twenty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both children and adults, including the Witches of Eileanan series. She is the only author to win five Aurealis Awards in a single year and was voted one of Australia's Favourite 25 Novelists. Her books have been published in fourteen countries. She completed her doctorate in fairy tale retellings at the University of Technology in Sydney in 2014. Kate lives in Sydney, Australia.
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Some readers may become lost as Charlotte-Rose flips from one part of her life to another in an order not always chronological. Nevertheless Forsyth's magnificent handling of her character proves her mettle as a writer who can not only depict the times and circumstances of 17th century France but can build a character of great nuance and power.
As with all good stories, there is a lesson to be learned. While in the convent, Charlotte-Rose learns a bit about humility when she comes in contact with an older sister who entertains her with a version of the Rapunzel story that reveals a great truth. This fairy tale is encrusted with pain, vanity and passion like the original version of Rapunzel that was included in the original collection of the Brothers Grimm and criticized for its inappropriateness for children. The nun's tale is woven within Charlotte-Rose's own story which makes for an entertaining and suspenseful break from the dreary life at the convent.
Forsyth's language and narrative is extremely well-done. I listened to the unabridged audio version of this novel and was pleased by the performance by Kate Reading. If you are a fan of Forsyth's you might recognize some of her descriptions and scenarios from other novels, but even if this can become repetitious, it does not detract from the overall enjoyment of the tale.
Bottom line? Kate Forsyth's "Bitter Greens" is recommended to all those who enjoy a detailed adult version of a popular fairy tale--in this case the beloved story of "Rapunzel." For those who are gentle readers, Forsyth does not pull any punches--her tortures, punishments and sorrows are very much on point. Recommended.
Diana Faillace Von Behren
"Buzzard's Eye View"
Charlotte-Rose had a carefree childhood running wild on her family's estate in Gascony. However, after her father dies, although her mother is managing the estate fine in her own the king decides she and her sister Marie need a strict guardian in charge and her mother is banished to a nunnery. Charlotte-Rose is smart and feisty and decides that since she is not beautiful she will go to court in Versaille where she can remain a single woman as a member of the royal household of Louis IX.
Charlotte-Rose had always been a great teller of stories and entertained the ladies at court as well as some of the gentlemen with her tales and even published some under a pseudonym. When her scandalous behaviour and forthright manner eventually displease the king he sends her to a nunnery for punishement. It is here that the author suggests that she heard the story of "Persinette" (little Parsley) later to become Rapunzel when retold by the brothers Grimm.
I really enjoyed the way the novel is written as a historical fiction surrounding the life of Charlotte-Rose and the fairy story of Rapunzel. The mixture of the politics of the Sun King's court with the rise and fall of women at court who must agree to the king's every whim or be rapidly banished from court makes for an intriguing story on its own. The story of Rapunzel is also a powerful story of the way in which women, particularly poor women were treated in the 16th century and that we come to feel pity not only for the girl locked in the tower but also for the witch who put her there. Great Story - highly recommended if you enjoy historical fiction.
Charlotte Rose de la Force has been banished from Louis XIV court (Versailles) to a nunnery where she fights against losing her independance (and ability to write stories) and whilst struggling to fit in is sheltered by an older nun Seraphina. Seraphina shares with her the tale of Persinette; a young girl captured by a powerful witch as punishment for her parents stealing some 'bitter greens' (parsley and rapunzel)from her garden.
Bitter Greens looks at the lives of strong women in the 1500's and 1600's in France and Venice. Charlottes story is the main vein that holds the story together, but the story of Rapunzel and the witch (Selena Leonelli - La Strega Bella) and their relationships and journey adds flavour and a sense of surrealism to the story.
Charlotte Rose is a true historical figure and her story is intriguing on its own. I felt at times that the two stories would have been better suited apart, as I would get swept up in the fairytale-ism of the Rapunzel story and then be swept back to the historical style of Charlottes tale.
An interesting look at the desires of women and what inspires and motivates them. At a time when women were either wives, whores or witches it is a real insight into the moments that could make or break a woman and how love is at the core of everything.
A wonderful tale and a recommend to anyone who loves history, romance, drama and touch of mysticism.