I am so honored to be included on the tour for Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth. This book was breathtaking and one of my favorites of the year (and all time really). I will read anything (and everything) Forsyth writes. If you enjoy retellings or historical fiction with adult themes you will love this book. Go forth and read!
Today I have my flail ridden review and a giveaway provided so kindly by the publisher.
This is an adult book so has mature content.
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. 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…
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. Called La Strega Bella, Selena is at the centre of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition, retaining her youth and beauty by the blood of young red-haired girls.
After 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 red-haired girl. And so, when she turns seven, Margherita is locked away in a tower, her hair woven together with the locks of all the girls before her, growing to womanhood under the shadow of La Strega Bella, and dreaming of being rescued…
Three women, three lives, three stories, braided together to create a compelling story of desire, obsession, black magic and the redemptive power of love.
This book was breathtaking and I have failed to find words to adequately describe how much I enjoyed it. I’ve sat on my review and notes for over a month attempting to figure out how to convey my emotions while reading. I can’t promise this will be coherent but I can say that I loved this book.
I went into it knowing only that it was an adult fiction retelling of Rapunzel. I was not nearly prepared for the epic and historical scope of what I was getting into.
Bitter Greens was written as a story within a story. We start first by meeting Charlotte-Rose and her banishment to a nunnery. Forsyth took me on a journey around France and Charlotte-Rose’s story and life. She was based upon a historic character that I had no knowledge of so I found this story to be incredibly intriguing. The setting was expertly done and I was easily transported to the Sun King, Louis XIV’s court.
It’s clear that Forsyth did her research to be able to convey the world and characters so realistically. The characters are the driving force behind this novel. Each was complex with incredible depth and motivations. I loved that we saw multiple view points, even that of the villain. The fact that the villain’s story had be at the edge of my seat and nearly crying for her was incredible.
Along with the historical feel we also have a very in depth and compelling retelling of Rapunzel. I will say I think this book was the most researched and best done look into a classic fairy tale I’ve read.
As I stated above, this review has been an ongoing struggle for me to write. It is not often that a book has left me completely speechless but this one did.
If you like adult historical fiction, retellings, character driven stories and complex villains then Bitter Greens would probably be for you.
About the Author:
Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called ‘one of the finest writers of this generation. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world.
Kate’s books have been published in 14 countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Poland and Slovenia. She is currently undertaking a doctorate in fairytale retellings at the University of Technology, having already completed a BA in Literature and a MA in Creative Writing.
Kate is a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, ‘A Mother’s Offering to her Children’. She lives by the sea in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.
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Bitter Greens Blog Tour Schedule:
Monday, September 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, September 18
Review & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader
Sunday, October 5
Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Tuesday, October 14
Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews
Monday, October 20
Interview & Giveaway at The Reading Frenzy