Mary G. (Purcellville, VA)
Bitter Greens: A Tale Well-Woven
Bitter Greens is a fascinating historical novel set in the 14th century that uses the classic fairy tale, Rapunzel, as it's framework. The book is divided into three strands. The first is the story of French noblewoman, Charlotte-Rose, who is credited as the author of Rapunzel. The second strand is the story of Selena, the Venetian courtesan/witch who imprisons Rapunzel. The third is the story of Rapunzel herself: Margherita, the daughter of an impoverished Venetian mask-maker and his wife. The strands are interwoven as tightly as Rapunzel's braid and the reader is drawn into the lives of these three women.
Bitter Greens is clever, original, and well-written. I hope Kare Forsyth plans to re-imagine other classic fairy tales.
Rita H. (Centennial, CO)
A Spell-Binding Delight
What a fabulous book! Bitter Greens is a weaving of three stories within one which captivates and binds the reader as surely as the heroines are captivated and bound within the stories. Based upon the fairy tale Rapunzel, this a historical novel to be read, re-read and shared. Witches, courtesans, inquisitors, innocents and princes move in and out as the stories move through two centuries in Venice and France. Ms. Forsythe is truly a master of words and her love of words sparkles throughout and paints scenes so alive that I felt I was truly a part of the story. I felt the hunger, despair, hope, fear and, yes, thrill of seduction and love contained in these pages. This book was so fascinating that I read the afterword and acknowledgements with almost as much eagerness as I had read the story. Now, I am intrigued to read the quoted poetry and many of the sources, especially Anne Somerset's The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV. I think that bookclubs would be enthralled and that discussions would be lively and spell-binding.
Lois (Wilmington, DE)
"Bitter Greens", history and magic well combined
Kate Forsyth has taken a puzzle from the world of fairy tale authors and written an intriguing novel, which combines the world of courtly life in 17th century France with one of my favorite fairy tales.
She tells three stories, braiding them together one strand at a time so accurately that you always know where you are, but not necessarily where you are going. The conclusion is a tour de force, with all explained very satisfactorily. It's a book I couldn't put down once I started reading (and it's a good thing I was on a long flight, I finished just as we landed). I recommend this book highly.
Tilli F. (Florence, MA)
An amazing Story
At first I was confused. It seemed to be two unrelated stories. Then I was absorbed. The life and times of Charlotte Rose was very interesting. Then I was frustrated. I wanted to hear more about Rapunzel and I still didn't understand how the two were connected. And by the end I was satisfied and sated by these two stories! And I finally understood that the one was originally told by the other, and that both were richly detailed and alive. A very good read.
April P. (Traverse City, Mi)
Bitter Greens, Bitter Sweet!
This book was a very good read. I enjoyed how European history was intertwined with the lives of many of the women throughout the story. There are many different snapshots of women's lives throughout the story that keeps you grounded but also keeps you cheering for these women and hoping they get a happy ending. The author does an amazing job of creating an evil character that the reader will undoubtedly feel compassion for. The magic woven throughout pulls the reader in and keeps you wanting more and the ending is completely bittersweet!
Peggy K. (San Diego, CA)
This is a beautifully written book about three women. The youngest is the center of a well known fairy tale. The second will be her tormentor and the narrator a French aristocrat imprisoned herself in a convent.
The truth behind the fairy tale is very different and this story will change forever the way you see the tale of Rapunzel. Readers will be caught up in the story of each of these women and perhaps there is some compassion to be shared for the evil witch.
The book will appeal to teens and adults. Once picked up you won't want to put it down until you know the whole story. It is a great read for any time. Book clubs can discuss the harshness of life in those times and how this story became the fairy tale we all know.
I am very glad that I asked for this book.
Beverly J. (Huntersville, NC)
Intrigue, Magic, and Setting
Every now and then I just want a book that takes me away and makes me forget time is passing by. Bitter Greens is such a book as I became a voyeur into the lives of Charlotte-Rose and Margherita/Selena as they navigated their way in 17th century France and 16th century Venice. I was very taken by Charlotte-Rose's story. While not a big fan of fairy tales, this book was a compelling magical ride for me. Beautifully written and well-paced I recommend this book to readers of historical fiction who like tales of intriguing women who possess a little magic in them.