Welcome to my stop on the BITTER GREENS blog tour! Today I'll be sharing my review of the book with you along with a great excerpt from the book - and don't forget to enter the giveaway!! To follow the rest of the tour, click on the banner above.
Author: Kate Forsyth
Genre: Historical/Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retellings
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
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.
“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
Château de Cazeneuve, Gascony, France – June 1666
I had always been a great talker and teller of tales.
‘You should put a lock on that tongue of yours. It’s long enough and sharp enough to slit your own throat,’ our guardian warned me, the night before I left home to go to the royal court at Versailles. He sat at the head of the long wooden table in the chateau’s arched dining room, lifting his lip in distaste as the servants brought us our usual peasant fare of sausage and white-bean cassoulet. He had not accustomed himself to our simple Gascon ways, not even after six years.
I just laughed. ‘Don’t you know a woman’s tongue is her sword? You wouldn’t want me to let my only weapon rust, would you?’
‘No chance of that.’ The Marquis de Maulévrier was a humourless man, with a face like a goat and yellowish eyes that followed my sister and me as we went about our business. He thought our mother had spoilt us, and had set himself to remedy our faults. I loathed him. No, loathe is far too soft a word. I detested him.
My sister, Marie, said, ‘Please, my lord, you mustn’t mind her. You know we’re famous here in Gascony for our troubadours and minstrels. We Gascons love to sing songs and tell stories. She means no harm by it.’
‘I love to tell a gasconade,’ I sang. ‘A braggadocio, a fanfaronade . . .’
Marie sent me a look. ‘You know that Charlotte-Rose will need honey on her tongue if she’s to make her way in this world.’
‘Sangdieu, but it’s true. Her face won’t make her fortune.’
‘That’s unfair, my lord. Charlotte-Rose has the sweetest face . . .’
‘She might be passable if only she’d pluck out that sting in her tail,’ the Marquis de Maulévrier began. Seeing that I had screwed up my face like a gargoyle, waggling my tongue at him, he rapped his spoon on the pitted tabletop. ‘You’d best sweeten your temperament, mademoiselle, else you’ll find yourself with a heart of gall.’
I should have listened to him.
Bitter Greens is the mesmerizing retelling of the fairy tale story of Rapunzel. Set in France, it follows our main character - the famous novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force. As the book begins, Charlotte-Rose has been banished from the court of Versailles to a nunnery by the king. While there, she becomes friends with an older nun who tells her the tale of a young girl named Margherita - who was sold to a wealthy household after her father was caught stealing from them. The story that Soeur Seraphina - the elder nun - recants inspires Charlotte-Rose to write the famous fairy tale of Rapunzel.
There is so much to this novel that there's no way possible for me to talk about it all in one review. This is the first book I've read by the author, and I was blown away. There is so much depth and life in the novel - with the intertwining story lines, beautiful imagery, and incredibly realistic characters, among many other things - that it can easily be called a masterpiece of fiction. Charlotte-Rose is a wonderful main character for the story - she speaks her mind and loves to tell stories, likes to mingle and attend parties, and carries herself with dignity. Being sent to the nunnery subdues her somewhat, but her personality and attitude are still very realistic. I loved her right from the start of the book and found myself easily identifying with her throughout the story. The other characters - from the older nun to the women in the story she tells Charlotte-Rose - are all well written and defined as well. The way they were presented and written brought them to life for me and only added to the beauty of the novel.
The world building and setting that the author provides is remarkable and nothing short of captivating. The use of vivid imagery and detailed descriptions in every aspect of the story made historical France, as well as all of the events in the story, come alive for me. It felt as if I could shut my eyes and see myself there beside Charlotte-Rose, listening to the story of Margherita, and going about life in seventeenth century France. I'm a huge francophile, so this was a huge pleasure for me. Reading about France, Versailles, and even the small bits of French that was spoken in the book - made me love it even more than I would have if it was set somewhere else. It was the perfect setting for the story for me, and I think it works wonderfully overall as well. Along with the French setting and history we read about, there's also so many fascinating topics in the book - from black magic and seduction to danger and mystery - there's literally something for everyone. I found that all of the aspects of the book came together effortlessly to create one of the most beautiful pieces of fiction I've ever read. There's so much going on in the book at all times; it definitely keeps the reader's interest piqued. I was literally riveted to each page and ended up devouring this novel in a matter of a few hours. It was easy to slip inside the story and the world that the author created - so much so that I didn't want the book to end. As I mentioned, my review honestly couldn't do this novel enough justice, so I'll stop rambling. I very highly recommend this book to fans of all types of fiction - fantasy, historical fiction, fairy tale retellings, romance - or anyone looking for something fresh and original. I'm officially a huge fan of the author's now and fully intend on reading all of her other works. Honestly, please pick up this book and give it a try. You won't be disappointed - I promise.
Mesmerizing and beautifully written - a new favorite!
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.
Her most recent book for adults is a historical novel called ‘The Wild Girl’, which tells the true, untold love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world’s most famous fairy tales. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, ‘The Wild Girl’ is a story of love, war, heartbreak, and the redemptive power of storytelling, and was named the Most Memorable Love Story of 2013.
She is probably most famous for ‘Bitter Greens’, a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale interwoven with the dramatic life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer, Charlotte-Rose de la Force. ‘Bitter Greens’ has been called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’, and has been nominated for a Norma K. Hemming Award, the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Fiction, and a Ditmar Award.
Her most recent book for children is ‘Grumpy Grandpa’, a charming picture book that shows people are not always what they seem.
Since ‘The Witches of Eileanan’ was named a Best First Novel of 1998 by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for numerous awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She’s also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Chain of Charms series – beginning with ‘The Gypsy Crown’ – which tells of the adventures of two Romany children in the time of the English Civil War. Book 5 of the series, ‘The Lightning Bolt’, was also a CBCA Notable Book.
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.
For more information please visit Kate Forsyth’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
Amazon US / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Giveaway: (1) Hardcover copy of Bitter Greens - Open to US only!