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Bitter Greens (2012)

von Kate Forsyth

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
5334235,068 (4.04)115
From internationally bestselling author Kate Forsyth comes a historical novel that gorgeously interweaves the Rapunzel fairy tale with the true life story of French novelist Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force. Charlotte-Rose 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, Sister Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, was sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens. After Margherita's father steals 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 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. Selena 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. This sumptuous novel holds the stories of three women, braided together to create a compelling tale of desire, black magic, and the redemptive power of love. Bitter Greens is an impressive feat of storytelling.… (mehr)
  1. 00
    Sacred Hearts von 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 von Genevieve Valentine (carriehh)
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I'm not a fan of the "bodice-ripper" genre so this wasn't for me. I read it for a book club and had a hard time making myself finish it. ( )
  Paperandkindness | Aug 12, 2021 |
Inspired by early Italian and French versions of the fairy tale "Rapunzel," Kate Forsyth's novel sets out to tell us the "true" story of the girl in the tower (similar to the film "Ever After") and pin it in a ravishing and luscious historical time period with a dash of fantasy thrown in. This it succeeds at with flying colors. Split between two interwoven narratives, Renaissance Italy and France come vividly to life within the novel as do a bevy of interesting characters.

Much psychological complexity is brought to these characters as well; Margherita, the book's "Rapunzel" character, being especially noteworthy. At its heart the story of "Rapunzel" is one of child abduction and Forsyth does not shy away from the torment and suffering of the subject. At first battered and torn after being wrenched away from the life and family she knew, Margherita slowly finds a fire within herself to escape and find her own freedom. It's clear that Forsyth does not view the story of "Rapunzel" as one of female subjugation but liberation.

If the book has a flaw it is perhaps that the central plot revolving around Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force (the author of one of the earliest extant versions of "Rapunzel") is not nearly as interesting as the fictional Margherita's story, but the vivid historical recreation of King Louis the Sun King's Parisian Court makes up for most of that, and in the end the two divergent stories do tie nicely together.

For me, "Bitter Greens" joins the ranks of Robin McKinley's "Beauty," Carolyn Turgeon's "Mermaid" and Tanith Lee's "White as Snow" as one of the very best contemporary fairy tale retellings. I'm definitely going to hunt down Forsyth's other books, especially her recent non-fiction work about Rapunzel's history. ( )
  bugaboo_4 | Jan 3, 2021 |
It took me awhile to get into this one. I loved the Rapunzel story. the French Court portion of the story, however, I didn't get into until almost the end of the book. ( )
  wills2003 | Jul 30, 2020 |
Advance reader copy. 4.5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, which weaves together the fairy tale, Rapunzel, and life in the Royal courts of 17th century France. Wonderful historical fiction, reminiscent of Phillippa Gregory. ( )
  LizBurkhart | Sep 5, 2019 |
Setting aside at page 210 - about a third of the way through. It's just not working for me. Jumping between the narratives is leaving me disinterested in all three of them, while I'd probably be quite engaged if it were only one (...well, maybe not Margherita). There are lots of elements that should work for me - ladies struggling against history and all - but the whole is not thrilling me.
  cupiscent | Aug 3, 2019 |
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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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From internationally bestselling author Kate Forsyth comes a historical novel that gorgeously interweaves the Rapunzel fairy tale with the true life story of French novelist Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force. Charlotte-Rose 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, Sister Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, was sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens. After Margherita's father steals 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 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. Selena 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. This sumptuous novel holds the stories of three women, braided together to create a compelling tale of desire, black magic, and the redemptive power of love. Bitter Greens is an impressive feat of storytelling.

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