Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: "Bitter Greens" by Kate Forsyth

02_Bitter Greens 
Publication Date: September 23, 2014 | Thomas Dunne Books | Hardcover; 496p | ISBN-10: 1250047536
Genre: Historical/Fantasy/Fairy-Tale Retellings
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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.

My Review

Bitter Greens is an interesting tale that interweaves a whole host of characters. The main character Charlotte de la Force is a distant relation to King Louis XIV and coquettish courtier. Though not pretty, Charlotte is witty and intelligent. Still, her lack of dowry makes it almost impossible for her to marry, so she turns to her knack for a pretty phrase and begins writing. Her story opens with her incarceration at a convent--Charlotte has been banished from Versailles after publishing a mocking story about the King. She is horrified to learn that she cannot write or have any of the luxuries she once knew. But then she meets a fellow nun--Soeur Seraphina--who spins a tale of a girl named Marguerita with long hair who is locked in a tower by a sorceress.

The novel cuts back in forth to Charlotte's present and her past, and the tales of Marguerita and her witch are interspersed throughout. It can be confusing with so many stories and characters. Often I would be irritated because one portion of the story would be interrupted by the next portion of another story. But overall the novel moves quickly so the threads of the story are not hard to pick back up. I especially enjoyed Selena's back story; since it was written in first person, it allowed for a better understanding of an evil character that most authors overlook.

Kate Forsyth is an excellent writer with a knack for characterization and not glossing over the realities of life in a historical period. And the ending totally caught me by surprise as well, so look forward to that!

Praise for Bitter Greens

“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

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About the Author

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.

Bitter Greens Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 15 Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past Tuesday, September 16 Review at Kinx's Book Nook Review & Giveaway at Bookish Wednesday, September 17 Review & Giveaway at Literary, etc Review & Giveaway at Book Drunkard Thursday, September 18 Review & Giveaway at Build a Bookshelf Review & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader Friday, September 19 Review at The Maiden's Court Review & Giveaway at Icey Books Monday, September 22 Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at A Dream Within a Dream Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary Tuesday, September 23 Review at Book Dilettante Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at SurLaLune Wednesday, September 24 Review at Caroline Wilson Writes Review, Interview, and Giveaway at Ink Gypsy Review, Interview, and Giveaway at The Lit Bitch Thursday, September 25 Review & Giveaway at No BS Book Reviews Interview & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter Friday, September 26 Review at The Gilmore Guide to Books Review at Must Read Faster Monday, September 29 Review at Book Lovers Paradise Review & Giveaway at Bookworm Blues Tuesday, September 30 Review at The Life & Times of a Book Addict Review & Excerpt at Books-n-Kisses Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee Wednesday, October 1 Review at One Book at a Time Review at Book-alicious Mama Review & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books Thursday, October 2 Interview at Layered Pages Review & Giveaway at Oh Magic Hour Friday, October 3 Review at Bibliophilia, Please Review & Giveaway at Gone Pecan Sunday, October 5 Review at Carole's Ramblings Monday, October 6 Review at Book Babe Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews Interview, Excerpt, & Giveaway at Harlequin Junkie Tuesday, October 7 Review at A Chick Who Reads Review & Giveaway at The Pretty Good Gatsby Wednesday, October 8 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time Review & Giveaway at My Friends Are Fiction Thursday, October 9 Review at Jorie Loves a Story Friday, October 10 Review at Mel's Shelves Review & Giveaway at No More Grumpy Bookseller Interview at Jorie Loves a Story Monday, October 13 Review at 100 Pages a Day - Stephanie's Book Reviews Review & Giveaway at Layers of Thought Tuesday, October 14 Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace Review & Giveaway at Beth's Book Reviews Wednesday, October 15 Review at Crossroad Review Review at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews Thursday, October 16 Review at Cheryl's Book Nook Review at CelticLady's Reviews Friday, October 17 Review at Mary Gramlich Review at She Reads Novels Monday, October 20 Interview & Giveaway at The Reading Frenzy  photo 4f9883f9-1e44-4720-b49c-daaa3e8cd0df.png