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Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Bitter Greens (2012)

by Kate Forsyth

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4563734,518 (4.1)112
  1. 00
    Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant (charl08)
    charl08: Similar theme Italy, forced entry to a convent and women's battle for independence.
  2. 00
    The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine (carriehh)

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
I’m a sucker for a good fairy tale retelling, so when I saw that one of my favorite authors wrote a retelling of Rapunzel, I just had to pick it up and read it. Bitter Greens tells a dual story, one of Charlotte-Rose de la Force, who has been banished from Versailles and forced to live in a convent; while there, she (and the reader) learns the story of Margherita, a girl who is stolen by a witch and locked in a tall tower.

This book contains so, so much: a haunting rendition of what Versailles must have been like; detailed descriptions of people there and their personalities; the history of the Huguenots and a stark look at how the Sun King and his cruelty. Along with that, we get a fairy tale complete with the backstory of the villain and a wonderful foundation for the magic contained within that story. This book is so detailed, too, to the point where you can just feel how much time Forsyth researched and worked to create this book. I felt completely immersed in these stories as I read this book, and it was a wonderful reading experience.

I love how effortlessly Forsyth wove the two stories together. Charlotte-Rose is based on a real person, who wrote the fairy tale that Brothers Grimm originally revised to be “Rapunzel.” With her story, we are also able to read a new tale of Rapunzel, one that inextricably ties together with Charlotte-Rose’s life. The heart of this book is about love. Love of family, love of a place, love of a lover, and the fear of not having those things anymore. The two stories seem so different, but are beautifully tied together with these themes, allowing the reader to see these concepts shown from all sorts of different angles.

I would definitely recommend this to lovers of fairy tales and historical fictions; it’s a wonderful mixture of both, and it is remarkably enjoyable.

Also posted on Purple People Readers. ( )
  sedelia | Aug 20, 2018 |
I listened to the audio version of Bitter Greens, which was read by Kate Reading. After recently listening to (and loving) The Wild Girl, I couldn't wait to listen to Kate Forsyth's other books. Bitter Greens did not disappoint. In fact, this marked one of the rare instances where my expectations were exceeded. I found this book to be magical and thoroughly engaging. Kate Reading's expert reading of Kate Forsyth's lyrical story is the perfect combination of writer and narrator.

Bitter Greens manages to seamlessly combine two of my favorite genres: historical fiction and fairy tale retellings. Charlotte (the main character) was a real woman who lived at the court of The Sun King (Louis XIV). Like most women of the time, much of her life was dictated by the men around her, but she still managed to live a most fascinating and expressive life. Kate Forsyth then weaves in a beautiful retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale, which Charlotte published during her lifetime. The result is a moving story that totally captured my attention for a few days as I listened to the book at every opportunity.
  asoutherngirlreads | Jul 22, 2018 |
sadly, this just wasn't the book for me. i had hoped the historical fiction aspects would outweigh the adapted fairy tale (from rapunzel) components, and i just never struck a good flow while reading. i found some of the prose a bit repetitive at times (example: first sentence of a paragraph: "...La Strega poured her potion into a graceful silver goblet and set it on a little table next to the bath." 4th sentence of that same paragraph: "She put her silver goblet on the little table..." she had already done that action at the start of the paragraph. why repeat it again. why? WHYYyyyyy?) stuff like that i find really hard to read through once i begin to notice it. i did quite like charlotte-rose, featured in one of the storylines, and based on the real woman (charlotte-rose de caumont de la force, who wrote the 1698 fairy tale persinette which was adapted by the brothers grimm in 1812 as the story rapunzel. i would read more about her as her life sounds fascinating. this book was read for a challenge (read an adapted fairy tale), and i struggled to find something that caught my interest. this did take me outside of my usual kind of reading, but i wish i had more success with it. it's clear forsyth did a lot of research for this book, and that she put a lot of love for the subject into it. ( )
  Booktrovert | May 2, 2018 |
With Bitter Greens, author Kate Forsyth blends historical fact and fiction together by mixing the Grimm Brothers fairy-tale of Rapunzel with that of a woman who is a French novelist. Even being a cousin of Louis XIV doesn’t keep Charlotte Rose de la Force from being banished from court and locked away from the world in a convent when she displeases the Sun King. Charlotte-Rose has a difficult time adjusting to this new life of prayers, punishments and isolation but an older, sympathetic nun relates to her the story of Margherita, a young woman of Venice who is taken by the witch called Le Strega Bella and becomes the legend of Rapunzel.

This story delves into all three of these women, telling of their loves and lives and by combining elements of fantasy with historical fact creates a story that is wide in scope yet draws the reader in with her fresh look at an old tale. The main characters that the author has created are complex and interesting women but the one reality that came through loud and clear in each of the women’s stories is that historically women were at the mercy of men.

I found Bitter Greens to be both unique and engaging, although a little too long and occasionally bogging down with excessive detail. Three women, three stories, two distinct settings – Venice in the 15th century and France in the 17th century makes for an ambitious novel that mostly works. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Dec 15, 2017 |
I love Kate's writing, but the organization of this book was a bit of a mess for me. ( )
  sydsavvy | Sep 5, 2017 |
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This book is dedicated to all my dear friends who are both women and writers - we are living the life that Charlotte-Rose dreamt of.
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I had always been a great talker and teller of tales.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"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 center 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"--Amazon.com.… (more)

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