Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

October 16, 2014 Fairy Tales, Historical Fiction 26

Bookworms, Bookworms, let down your hair!

I’m eeeeeeeevil and have locked you in a tower and forced you to grow your hair to unimaginable lengths that don’t occur in nature and now I want to use it as a rope, damnit! Heck yes, y’all, I just finished reading Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, a re-telling of Rapunzel. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration through NetGalley. May I be locked in a tower if this review is untrue.*

bittergreensBitter Greens begins with a note about how the folk tale Rapunzel originally surfaced in Italy but its best known published version appeared in France. What follows is Forsyth’s imagining of how the tale managed to travel. It gives a fictionalized account of the life of the French author, Charlotte-Rose de la Force as well as a creative interpretation of Rapunzel’s origin story.

Charlotte-Rose was a courtier in Louis XIV’s lavish and fickle court. After a series of scandals, Charlotte-Rose is, for all intents and purposes, disposed of in a poverty ridden convent. Out of sight, out of mind, no? Her greatest love was writing, but even that is denied to her inside the cloisters. It certainly doesn’t help anything that Charlotte-Rose was raised a Huguenot and was forced to convert to Catholicism… And then, you know, unceremoniously dumped in a convent. Bad form, Louis.

In any case, Charlotte-Rose is in a bit of a pickle, but comes to befriend Sœur Seraphina who comes to teach her the glories of gardening and shares her stories. What story do you think she starts with?! Why, a young maiden locked in a tower with a ginormous length of hair, of course!

Fairy tale retellings can be a bit hit or miss for me, but Bitter Greens was a big hit. It had all my favorite historical fiction elements; I felt like I was IN these times. And there was plague. MUAHAHAHAHA! Really though, the best part of this novel from my perspective was that the witch got a fantastically developed back story. I like my villains to have depth, and Selena Leonelli was one complex lady. If you like historical fiction, fairy tales, and interwoven storylines, Bitter Greens is your book, y’all!

Alright Bookworms, let’s talk villains! Who’s your favorite fairy tale villain? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will NOT be using it on hair extensions, because at the moment, long hair seems incredibly over-rated.*

26 Responses to “Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth”

  1. Hobbie DeHoy

    I love fairy tale retellings, and there are so few about Rapunzel. Cinderella gets far too much attention in this genre, in my opinion. Can’t wait to read this. Thanks!

  2. Catherine

    I also enjoyed Selena’s backstory but felt like there were so many characters in the novel it got muddled. Each was almost a novel alone.

  3. ThatAshGirl

    Fairy tale stuff is very hit or miss for me. LOVED the Marissa Meyer series but a sneeze too far (like with the evil queen coming from the MOON) and it could have been cheesy.

    On a side note, every time I try to grow out my hair I regret it. My hair was long enough a few years ago that I could reach behind me and just grab the ends….way too much hair to deal with on a daily basis if you’ve got curly or thick hair. Speaking of that…getting a solid 8 or 9 inches chopped off mine on Saturday. FUN!

  4. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Rapunzel is one of my favorite fairy tales. I had long hair my whole life until this past July, and I really identified with poor Rapunzel always having people tug on her hair. Poor thing.

    Favorite fairy tale villain: The mother from the old version of Cinderella. I love how she’s just like “Yes, daughters, cut off pieces of your feet if it’ll land you the prince!” Ahahah, worst mother ever.

  5. Leila @ Readers' Oasis

    Oh, I have seen this around, and now I do want to give it a try! One fairy tale re-telling that I really enjoyed this year was The Girls at the Kingfisher Club–re-telling of the 12 Dancing Princesses, set in 1920s NYC.

    Favorite fairy tale villain: Maleficent, because my daughter played her in a musical of Sleeping Beauty earlier this year!

  6. AMB

    This book sounds really interesting! I’m not a big fan of retellings, but fairy tale retellings don’t bother me as much as retellings of novels with a known author that are no longer under copyright protection (like Jane Eyre).

  7. Annabel Smith

    I’m not usually into fairy tale retellings but I’ve heard nothing but raves about this one. It’s been on my list for eons.

    My favourite fairy tale villain is Bluebeard. So scary.

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