Bitter Greens, Hardback Book
4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Charlotte-Rose de la Force, exiled from the court of King Louis XIV, has always been a great talker and teller of tales. Selena Leonelli, once the exquisite muse of the great Venetian artist Tiziano, 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. You may think you know the story of Rapunzel ...


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Allison & Busby
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Myth & legend told as fiction
  • ISBN: 9780749013622

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Review originally published on my blog: AWordsWorth.blogspot.comBook provided by publisher for review.Bitter Greens is an intricate retelling of Rapunzel's story, weaving it into a historical context that makes the familiar tradition live and breathe in unexpected ways. This is a fairytale for adults and historical fiction lovers. Charlotte-Rose has been exiled from the court of the Sun King, sentenced to finish out her days in a nunnery after losing the favor of Louis XIV. Fighting violently against her new life, Charlotte-Rose finds she can no longer ignore her memories or run from her past. Her story is one of heartache and lost love, missed opportunities and the fickle gaiety of court. It's lush and extravagant, yet also threadbare and built upon a fragile base of shifting allegiances. At the nunnery, Charlotte-Rose meets a nun - Sœur Seraphina - who extends a hand of mercy and friendship, and offers a welcome distraction from her troubles. The story Sœur Seraphina tells is a strangely fascinating one to Charlotte-Rose, about a beautiful young Venetian girl, Margherita, stolen from her parents by a strega - a witch - and locked away in a convent. When the strega comes back for Margherita (whom she calls Petrisonella), she whisks her away to a remote tower, sewing a strange, abnormally long collection of hair into Margherita's own bronze locks. And so begins the Rapunzel story. Forsyth does a masterful job of weaving Margherita's story into that of Charlotte-Rose, even working in a piece that addresses the history of the strega - Selena - who has a fascinating story of her own. Rich in historical detail and intricately-fleshed out characters, 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. Worth the wait.

Review by

Charlotte-Rose de la Force was in the Sun King's court and at one stage was exiled to a convent. She wrote a story called Persinette which was used by the Brother's Grimm as Rapunzel. It's a story that appears to have started in Italy and there have often been questions about how Charlotte-Rose encountered the story. This story uses the exile in the convent to allow the transmission of the story. This does ignore the fact that Charlotte-Rose was interested in stories and that there were embassies and visitors from other countries some of whom may have told stories if prompted. Still the conceit is fun and the story unfolds well. I just didn't care about Charlotte-Rose, I wanted to know how the various elements of the Rapunzel story were incorporated into the story but I didn't care really about the characters.Entertaining but it just didn't grasp me.

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