Bitter Greens

Bitter GreensBitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on September 23rd 2014
Pages: 496
ISBN: 1250047536
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I LOVED this book!!!

The tale of Rapunzel has been brought to life in a book full of black magic, jealousy, greed, love, desire, and redemption.

What worked in this book? EVERYTHING!!!! I have grown to love books told through various characters POV. I used to really get annoyed with lots of different POV chapters. But in this book the different POV chapters worked brilliantly. I loved that I learned the POV of the girl locked in the tower to then read the POV of the witch that had locked her there. I loved learning how the witch came to be a witch, her motivations, desires, her need to always look young. Plus there is also the POV of Charlotte-Rose de la Force, the woman put in a covenant for being her own person (plus having a scandalous love affair). She is an Author in the book and a woman ahead of her time. She believed women and men should be treated equally and wanted a career as a writer and to have the ability to love whomever she pleases. But she quickly learned that doing as she wanted got her in hot water with the King. She was sent to a covenant where she meets a woman who grows herbs and tends bees in the garden. The woman begins to tell her the story of a young girl named Margherita who is taken by a woman named Selena Leonelli after her father steals some parsley from the woman’s garden.

Selena is a beautiful red haired muse who is painted by her lover and artist Tiziano. Selena was taken in by a witch after her parents death and learned the ways of black magic. After being put out by the witch she becomes a courtesan (whore) who has a life long love affair with the artist Tiziano. She inspires his beautiful artwork his entire life. He grows old..why doesn’t she?

Margherita’s father steals some bitter greens from Selena’s garden to help his wife during labor. He is caught and is threatened with losing his hands if he does not agree to give something to the witch/courtesan Selena Leonelli. He is an artist. If he loses his hands he can no longer work. What decision will he make?

Locked away in a tower, Margherita’ hair grows and she is visited monthly after she lowers her hair for the witch to climb up. There in the tower as she wrestles with loneliness she makes a grizzly discovery but also meets a young man who hears her singing and climbs the tower to meet the singer with the beautiful voice.

The story lines become woven together so brilliantly. Charlotte being told the story while at the covenant. She is able to identify with the young woman with such long hair. Feeling locked away herself she wants to learn how the story ends. There is a reveal at the end which was very pleasing but not too shocking.

I cannot do this book justice. What I can do is highly recommend it!! All of the characters are interesting and their stories are enjoyable. I read this book slowly and I am so happy that I did. It is always a pleasure to read a book so beautifully written. I loved how the women’s stories come together and how knowingly and unknowingly their stories intertwined. There are no dull parts to this book.

Again, I highly recommend this book!

A Library Journal Best Book of 2014: Historical Fiction


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