Aussie Author Challenge Australian Women Writers Book Reviews

Book Review: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth #AWW2018 #AussieAuthor

In January 1697, Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the king after a series of scandalous love affairs. She is sent to the nunnery which is as removed from life as she knows it. Here she is comforted by an older nun, Soeur Seraphina, who tells her the story of a young girl sold to a witch by her parents for a handful of bitter greens almost a hundred years ago.

The young girl, Margherita, has been forcefully given away to Selena Leonelli after her father was caught stealing a handful of parsley, wintercress and rapunzel from her garden. Locked away in a tower, she years to escape but is not sure if she ever will.

Selena Leonelli is a courtesan and practices witchcraft. She is the red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano from 1512 until his death sixty-four years later. She lives in the centre of Renaissance life in Venice. But Selena fears time.

The story of these three women over two centuries come together in a tale of desire, obsession, witchcraft, superstition and of course, the power of love.

Bitter Greens is partly the re-telling of Rapunzel but not exactly as we know it and partly the fictional life of Charlotte-Rose de la Force, one of the first writers of literary fairy tales and of historical fiction. Forsyth has painted the settings of the 1500s and 1600s in Venice and France beautifully and as a reader, you are taken on a wonderful journey. While fairy tales are usually associated with damsels in distress {thank you, Disney}, Forsyth’s heroines are far from these. Yes, they are treated as secondary citizens as women were in that era, but they don’t succumb to it quietly. They fight in different ways and are feminists in their own right.

I’m not an avid reader of historical fiction but this book grabbed me after I heard Kate Forsyth speak last year. And I wasn’t disappointed as it was un-put-down-able. A bit of fantasy and magic interspersed with sex, love and scandals, the journey is one worth going on. The characters are fantastic and as a reader, you find yourself wanting to know what happens to them, thereby turning the pages late into the night.

If you enjoy historical fiction, you have to read this book. If you don’t enjoy historical fiction, give this book a go. You might just get hooked!

My rating:

***Read and reviewed as part of the 2018 Australian Women Writers’ Challenge and the 2018 Aussie Author Challenge***

Until next time

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  • Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews
    8 January 2018 at 8:23 pm

    Your review has brought back memories of my reading of this wonderful title – so glad you found time for it.
    Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews recently posted…A WRONG TURN AT THE OFFICE OF UNMADE LISTS by Jane Rawson, Book ReviewMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
      8 January 2018 at 8:30 pm

      It was such a lovely read; I’m so glad I went to see her speak because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have bought her book and wouldn’t have enjoyed this journey!

  • Soumya
    8 January 2018 at 11:14 pm

    It does seem like an interesting, poignant read.

    I first read the author name as “Kale Forsyth” and thought wow, Bitter Greens is a really apt name 😛
    Soumya recently posted…#FeministMondays | On Looking MarriedMy Profile

  • Vinodini
    10 January 2018 at 6:27 pm

    I was always fascinated with Rapunzel’s character. I haven’t read too much of historical fiction but I still dig on fairy tales and folklores. Thanks for the interesting review.

  • Weekly Gratitude 2018 2/52 - Sanch Writes
    14 January 2018 at 10:05 am

    […] a prolific author – Kate Forsyth – share my link about a review of her book, Bitter […]