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Bitter Greens: A Novel
by Kate Forsyth

Published: 2014-09-23
Hardcover : 496 pages
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A Library Journal Best Book of 2014: Historical Fiction

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 ...
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Introduction

A Library Journal Best Book of 2014: Historical Fiction

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.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

A Sprig of Parsley

The Rock of Manerba, Lake Garda, Italy – May 1599


These three things were true:
Her name was Margherita.
Her parents had loved her.
One day, she would escape.
At the worst times, when the walls of the tower seemed to press upon her ribcage, Margherita would repeat these three things over and over again, like sorrowful mysteries muttered over a rosary.
She had been locked away in this one small stone room at the age of twelve. Fifty-one full moons had passed since then, shown by the scars on her wrists. If she did not escape soon, surely she would die. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

Were you surprised to realise that most of the dramatic events of Charlotte-Rose’s life really happened?

Why do you think Selena locked up those little girls in the tower? Do you think she really loved them?

Why do you think the name of Charles Perrault has been remembered when the names of the females in the French fairytale tradition have all been forgotten?

Suggested by Members

Discuss the resilience of Mlle de la Force as compared to other characters.
by ccroft78248 (see profile) 01/25/15

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Great read!"by ccroft78248 (see profile) 01/25/15

This book weaves a great tale into a historical fiction story of 16th century women and royal life. Books written as cleverly as this one make me want to read. It was fun, adventurous, and interesting.... (read more)

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