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An utterly captivating reinvention of the Rapunzel fairytale weaved together with the scandalous life of one of the tale’s first tellers, Charlotte-Rose de la Force.
Charlotte-Rose de la Force exiled from the court of the Sun King LouisXIV, has always been a great teller of tales.
Selena Leonelli, once the exquisite muse of the great Venetian artist Titian, is terrified of time.
Margherita, trapped in a doorless tower and burdened by tangles of her red-gold hair, must find a way to escape.
Three women, three lives, three stories, braided together in a compelling tale of desire, obsession and the redemptive power of love
What The Critics Said
"Surrender yourself to a master storyteller ... Bitter Greens is a complex, dazzling achievement.”
Susan Vreeland, New York Times bestselling author of Clara and Mr. Tiffany and Girl in Hyacinth Blue
'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'.
Michael Cart- Booklist
‘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'.
'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, author of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
‘Deserves to win the Booker...You might laugh at me for suggesting a retelling, or reimagining, of the tale of Rapunzel – however the last laugh would be on you for missing out on a gem...[Kate Forsyth] creates a truly spellbinding historical novel in a new, original and refreshing way.’
'Heartbreaking, exquisitely sensual...a fabulously tangled web of fairy tale and historical romance. Brutal. Lurid. Beautiful. Wise.'
Essie Fox, author of The Somnabulist
'The stories of the three women are captivating...Three distinctive women with fascinating journeys through life, often fraught with danger, beset by sadness, but all strong and courageous... I found great pleasure in sitting back and reading this impressive novel...escaping back in time and getting lost in this layered, imaginative, magical story every time I picked the book up. Bitter Greens is definitely one of the highlights of my reading in 2013 so far.'
'Like the plait in which Margherita is forced to keep her endless lengths of hair, the story consists of three strands that intertwine to form a stronger, more elegant whole... I loved losing myself in its pages and Forsyth’s wonderful writing. The book is one of the most powerful fairy-tale retellings I’ve read and I can’t wait to read more books by Forsyth. Whether you’re a fan of historical fiction, fantasy or fairy-tale retellings, this book delivers for fans of all three. I can’t recommend it highly enough.'
'With themes of love, beauty, seduction and power, I found this a fantastically compelling novel. Sexy and scandalous, Bitter Greens truly enchanted me from start to finish.'
'Kate Forsyth’s beautiful new novel breathes life into the Rapunzel story...Forsyth’s writing brings a lyricism and humour to the well-balanced narrative...If you like a love story with a dark side and compelling characters then it is definitely worth picking up a copy!'
'Partly the retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale, but really much, much more than that. The author weaves together with consummate ease the stories of three women, brought vividly to life and given true voices of their own as they struggle for recognition in a world dominated by men. Kate has achieved something quite remarkable by interconnecting the three women's stories whilst at the same time revitalising the fairytale legend of Rapunzel. Breathtakingly good and given superb production treatment by Allison and Busby.'
'With a book I love this much...I really ought to just do a video review so I can wave my hands and make excited noises... Forsyth mixes magic and history, and comes up with a delicious and heartbreaking treat...Told in a story-within-a-story style, Forsyth manages to write a wonderfully solid historical novel...as well as a fairy tale fantasy that resonates and delights. Shifting between three perspectives, this brick of a novel (about 500 pages) had me hanging on every word, literally, and I was lugging this thing with me everywhere and reading it with every free second.'
'Kate Forsyth has expertly woven together three stories that at once mirror each other whilst at the same time are completely different, deftly combining different time lines and locations to create an exquisitely intricate tale that will shock, amaze and bewitch...The lines between fact and fiction are expertly blurred and blended till we find ourselves wrapped up in the fairytale ourselves, no longer able to untangle the strands of three very different lives that have culminated in one of the best-loved fairytales of all time.'
'Bitter Greens gives new insight into several different historical periods, and is a testament to the power of Love. It's a beautiful retelling of a classic fairytale, with raw, rough emotions and just enough "harsh reality" to make the story strong, believable. The connections between the three, stunningly different women - it's masterfully written.'
'Bitter Greens is an utterly fantastic retelling of Rapunzel, blended together with the factually-based story of the woman who wrote down the version we know today. Not at all suited for children, Forsyth’s book is an incredibly dark account and far more stupendous... The novel is a constant succession of details, complexity, and magnificence... The storytelling is exceptional... Bitter Greens is a masterpiece... If you want a final recommendation, let this be it: if you don’t want to miss the book that might end up being your favourite of the year, you’ll want to read it, and soon.'
'Even at almost 500 pages, I finished it in less than 12 hours! It was simply - and I don't EVER use this word lightly - unputdownable and is already a contender for my favourite book of 2013...Bitter Greens is a retelling of the fairy tale about Rapunzel, but it still so much more than that...I can't recommend this book highly enough! 5+ stars.'
'Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth will be one of my favourite books of this year. I loved this book! I can guarantee that this book will captivate you...and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it especially to those who love fairy tales and historical fiction.'
'Without hesitation, Kate Forsyth's newest novel is my favourite novel of 2013... An interesting and unique mashup of fairytale lore, court politics, and thwarted love, this captivating and darkly fascinating look at three intriguing and multi-faceted women is unlike any other book I've come across...A vibrant read on all counts, Bitter Greens is sprawling, ambitious and impressive...and manages to breathe some fresh air into historical fiction. 5 stars.'
'A very special and enchanting tale. It is a gorgeous hardback edition, beautifully finished, making it a joy to look at, hold and read. The story is beautifully written, and it makes for an engrossing historical fiction read. In part, it is a retelling of a classic fairytale, Rapunzel. But it is so much more than this... Bitter Greens is definitely one of the highlights of my reading in 2013 so far.'
'Part historical fiction, part fairy tale retelling, Bitter Greens...is a great historical pick with a magical element... It's so much fun to see a new spin on a beloved story.'
A Bookish Affair
'Bitter Greens...most certainly will go on my final list of most cherished and loved books of all time. This book doesn’t just lead us on a frivolous walk of enchantment and fantasy. It carries a message about women living their dreams and hopes, overcoming the gender role, being courageous and bold, and most of all love, but beyond that, also the darker emotions and desires that lead us to bad decisions and situations and how we can be redeemed or doomed...It’s timeless.
Forsyth’s subtle dissection of the culture, art, storytelling and emotions of the time within her fiction, coupled with how we retain and retell stories today, is in a class all its own. Her creation is a masterpiece of art to not get lost in a sea of ever published books. Forsyth could quite possibly be one of the best story tellers of our modern age.'
'Bitter Greens is an absolutely beautiful book inside and out, combining three of my favourite genres (historical, romance and fantasy fiction)... I was hooked. Bitter Greens is in turns sexy and dangerous, heartbreaking and inspiring... a surprise favourite for me out of the books I’ve read this year. 5 stars'
'[A] truly breathtaking novel...I cannot get over how overwhelming and beautifully written this book is...I am adding it to the top of my best reads of the year.'
'Whether you love fairy tale retellings, historical fiction or both, this is exceptional storytelling and I highly recommend this book!... There is an earthiness to the story telling that is engaging - it is by turns shocking, fun, sensuous, and filled with twists and turns that keep the reader engaged from beginning to end'
'One of my favourite reads of the year'
'History and fairy tale are richly entwined in this spellbinding story. Unputdownable!'
Juliet Marillier, author of Daughter in the Forest