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I loved this mashup of historical fiction, classic fairy tale and romance! The language was beautiful, the plot a delight and the characters felt real and genuine. The story weaves between many different time periods and the stories of several different women, but I thoroughly enjoyed each voice and never felt left hanging or confused. Instead each story layered beautifully with the others, from Charlotte-Rose’s story of politics and intrigue in the french court to Margherita’s story of fantastical magic. Through it all are the threads of love, magic and the strength to be true to oneself. It’s one of those books that left me feeling renewed and rejuvenated, with a deeper understanding of the power of fairy tales.— Jax
A Library Journal Best Book of 2014: Historical Fiction
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 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.
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.
“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