Quick Shots Book Review: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Bitter Greens… About:

The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love…

French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, 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…

After Margherita’s father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious 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. She is at the centre of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.

Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.



My Thoughts:

History and fairy tale magic weave together in this stunning novel of betrayal and redemption by one of my favourite authors, Kate Forsyth. The scope of this novel and the interlocking lives of its characters is truly breathtaking, a testimony to Kate’s finely tuned skill as a master storyteller.

The setting is so rich in detail that I could virtually taste and smell the surrounds. The character development is intensely intricate, the motivations of each of the key players apparent and entirely justified within the context of their individual experiences. This is a novel that will sweep you up in its embrace, the kind of story you will want to get lost in for hours at a time in order to fully experience and appreciate the depth and detail. There are many moments where the lives of each of these characters intersect in ways you would have never anticipated; and many more moments that will leave you winded from the emotional heights that Kate pushes her characters to.

At the core of this story, to my mind, is the notion of release and redemption. Release from the shackles that bind a person to a life they had never intended to live and redemption from the acts they have committed while in the grips of those shackles. I adore this novel and despite reading and loving all of Kate’s historical fairy tale offerings, Bitter Greens remains my favourite, set apart at a height I doubt any other novel will ever reach.

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