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Bitter Greens

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  6,570 ratings  ·  1,215 reviews

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 scand
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published September 23rd 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published March 20th 2012)
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Anna No I don't think it is considered Young Adult. My library has it in adult fiction and several other sources indicate that it is adult.
Tigress (Warrior Elf) SPOILERS: The villain is definitely inspired by Elizabeth Bathory, so if she freaks you out, I would NOT recommend this book. The witch keeps Margheri…moreSPOILERS: The villain is definitely inspired by Elizabeth Bathory, so if she freaks you out, I would NOT recommend this book. The witch keeps Margherita (Rapunzel) in the tower because she needs to bathe in the blood of a virgin once a month, as part of a spell to keep her young and beautiful (she's 200 years old). She's had eight girls living in that tower before Margherita, and she keeps their skeletons in the tower's cellar. And the long hair is actually the hair of all the previous girls, which she weaves together using magic and forces Margherita to wear. Also, I don't know what exactly scares you, but there's a lot of graphic, violent rape in this book, too. Definitely not for the faint of heart. Hope this helped. :)(less)

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  6,570 ratings  ·  1,215 reviews

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Kate Forsyth
Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This book has very deep roots that run right back into my childhood, when I was intrigued and enchanted by the original fairytale of Rapunzel. I have always wanted to write a retelling of the Rpaunzel fairytale but my problem was how to reinvent the tale and make it fresh and surprising and compelling. It took me a very long time to write this book and I'm very happy to see it with a beautiful, dreamy, romantic, fairytale cover. I hope anyone who reads it is enchanted and spellbound :)
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
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 ther
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

An Easy Quiz To See If Bitter Greens Is For You:

#1. Do you like strong, flawed and inherent compelling female narrators?

#2. Do you enjoy reading new twists and interpretations of old fairytales?

#3. Does historical fiction with excellent place-as-character (for both Versailles and Venice) appeal to your reading tastes?

#4. Do you like a little magic subtly interwoven into your historical fiction?

#5. Have you read and enjoyed similar books like Kill Me Sof
Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨

✨ Popsugar Reading Challenge 2019✨
✨✨A books with a title that contains "salty", "sweet", "bitter", or "spicy"✨✨

I really had no expectations going into this book but I am so happy I picked it up. It combines two of my favourite genres - fairy tales and historical fiction. It has magic, love, feminism, independence, family and so many other wonderful things! Just goes to show, that sometimes you really should take a chance with the b
If I could give this book ten BIG golden stars, I would! Actually I am giving away a copy, so let me know if you are interested in me putting your name in the drawing or head over to on Sept 23 to enter. It starts Sept 23-Sept 29. If you are a U.S. resident then I will add all my likes from here into the drawing as well :)

A special thanks to Amy Bruno for the advanced copy for an honest review as well as St. Martin's Press and Kate Forsyth!

This is a retelling of the most fam
Rachael McDiarmid
I work in the book industry and when I first read about this book I begged Random House for an advance reading copy. When it arrived, I actually squealed with delight! Once I started, I couldn't put it down. It's the best historical fiction work I've read in a long time (and trust me, I read quite a bit!!). Bitter Greens is beautifully written, with wonderful female characters, and a story that just had to be told. I must admit, I was more fascinated by Charlotte-Rose de la Force than the retell ...more
The ideal reader for this book would be someone who loves both historical fiction and fairy tales. The reader who dislikes one of these types of narratives is likely to find a large portion of the novel rather tiresome. Fortunately, I am one of those readers who does enjoy both.

For me, the most interesting aspect of Bitter Greens is its structure. The two story lines are braided like Rapunzel’s hair. They share themes. All the female characters struggle for independence, and the power to decide
Mordieu! This is one heck of a story!

Imagine my surprise when I got to the Afterward and discovered Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force was a real person, and much of this account is inspired by her real life. I find it so incredibly fascinating, and now I'm dying to know as much about her as possible! What an added bonus to an extraordinary tale! I've also been fascinated by 16th/17th century French history since I fell in love with The Three Musketeers so this just hit me right in my happy p
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kate Forsyth's BITTER GREENS is not only a magnificent achievement that would make any novelist jealous, it's one of the most beautiful paeans to the magic of storytelling that I've ever read.

Told in the points of view of three women linked to the legend of the girl locked by a curse in a tower, the story begins in the dazzling, corrupt France of the Sun King, where witty, hapless Charlotte-Rose de la Force finds herself immured in a convent after a disastrous affair that displeased the king. R
I'll start by saying, Yes I would recommend you read this book. Forsyths telling of Rapunzel is beautiful, you cannot help but feel heart broken for the young Marghuerita. Her tale about the witch, Selena, is also masterfully written, giving the character more depth than you could think possible.
I believe the issue of this novel lay with Charlotte-Rose. She is the protagonist of the tale, and we spend most of our time following her story. While I find her story interesting, I don't think it's as
This is a very good but complicated, epic fantasy. Three women's stories from three separate era's are tied up neatly in a deadly but delicately woven web. It took me a while to get into it, but once I did it took off and had a smart and imaginative ending. Interesting and strong characters keep all three storie interesting and well paced. Kate Reading always does a excellent job narrating with all of her unique voices.
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The reviews were spot on with this novel. It was like being given a backstage pass to the true tale of Rapunzal. It brought it all to life and within came a wonderful message of redemption. Highly recommend.
pink (not just another shade of red)
In Bitter Greens, Kate Forsyth braided together fantasy, romance and history into a lovely, intricate tale full of magic, mystery, intrigue, and strong, beautiful women.

In 1697, Mademoiselle Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force was banished from the royal court of the Sun King to the Benedictine abbey of Gercy-en-Brie. From inside the walls of the convent Charlotte Rose published her to be most celebrated story - Persinette- a tale that would inspire the Grimm Brothers' Rapunzel. Up to today, e
Zoe (Attic Salt Reviews)
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
If you like gloriously remastered fairy tales, twisted and flawed narrators, layered and tragic villains, powerful women, a little bit of romance and a great deal of historical fiction… this book is the one for you!!! Bitter Greens is an amazing novel which I would recommend to just about anyone!

"Don't you know a woman's tongue is her sword? You wouldn't want me to let my only weapon rust, would you?"

The year is 1666 and French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force, the witty and brusque woman wh
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book last week at the Newcastle Writers Festival, and was lucky enough to have it signed by the author. This review also forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014.

I was vascillating between four and five stars and then decided on five. For me, five stars means that I will, without a shadow of a doubt, read it again. Why the four star/five star indecision? Well, read on. I'll try not to taint this review with spoilers, though it might be tricky.

Jul 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
Nice mix of fairytale and historical fiction. This book tells the stories of three women, all of them unwilling to be meek and obliging as their societies or their guardians demand, and of how they tried to achieve agency and love.

In the best tradition of modern fairytale retellings the story is dark, angsty and, of course, the Rapunzel’s take here is not after its bowdlerized version. The “bitter” part of the book's title is not just for decoration, either: there is physical and psychological v
I was looking forward to reading Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, its been on my list of upcoming books to read for quite a while now. It's the retelling of the traditional fairytale of Rapunzel as well as a historical novel about Charlotte-Rose de la Force, the woman who wrote the fairytale 'Persinette' which was later adapted by the Brothers Grimm as the story we know as Rapunzel.

I enjoyed the beginning of the story where we are introduced to Charlotte-Rose de la Force and follow her after she i
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I feel kind of terrible writing this review because this book is awesome ... and not available in the U.S. (It is available in the UK.) As usual, with a book I love this much, I'm having a hard time writing a coherent review. I really ought to just do a video review so I can wave my hands and make excited noises -- that'd probably convey more.

I'm a sucker for a fairy tale retold, especially when they're placed in a historical era, marrying 'real' with 'fantasy'. In this case, the fairy tale is R
This fascinating book is a reworking of the fairy tale Rapunzel woven into the story of Charlotte-Rose Caumont de la Force, who wrote and published a version of the story while locked in an austere French nunnery in the 1690s. There is mystery surrounding how she came to hear of the story, originally published in Italy some 60 years earlier in a dialect Charlotte-Rose would not have been able to read.

Charlotte-Rose had a carefree childhood running wild on her family's estate in Gascony. However,
Theresa Smith
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aww2016
History and fairy tale magic weave together in this stunning novel of betrayal and redemption by one of my favourite authors, Kate Forsyth. The scope of this novel and the interlocking lives of its characters is truly breathtaking, a testimony to Kate’s finely tuned skill as a master storyteller.

The setting is so rich in detail that I could virtually taste and smell the surrounds. The character development is intensely intricate, the motivations of each of the key players apparent and entirely j
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Bitter Greens is a lot of things: historical fiction, historical fantasy, fairy tale retelling. Most importantly, though, it's great fun, containing grand stories worthy of fairy tales, with the complexity and historical background of a good adult novel.

Slightly over half the book is narrated by Charlotte-Rose de la Force, a lady-in-waiting in the court of Louis XIV of France. (She was an actual historical writer, one of the first to tell the Rapunzel fairy tale.) We first meet her at age 47, wh
Karen Brooks
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I confess I'm a long time fan of Kate Forsyth's work ever since I read The Witches of Eileanan and sent my first email ever to an author to express my appreciation. I know the high standards Kate sets and that which her readers have come to expect and what a magnificent storyteller she is, even so, this did not prepare me for the experience of reading Bitter Greens. Quite simply, this is an outstanding, mesmerizing book that is one of the finest works of historical fiction I have read.

Weaving t
This is a really original, wonderfully written take on the Rapunzel story. It follows three women living in seventeenth century Venice and Versailles, all of whom struggle to find a unique place for themselves in a male-dominated world. The book is set in the historical past, with an intricate plot structure that jumps between eras, but there's also an element of magic that will make fantasy lovers happy.

While I enjoyed Kate Forsyth's writing, loved the settings, and basically devoured the entir
I finished this last night and found it to be an enjoyable read. Fantasy is not a genre I am familiar with, nor one that I generally enjoy, with some exceptions. But this was the story of 3 women told over a 200-year period - one a noblewoman banished from the court of the Sun King, another a young girl locked in a tall tower by a wicked witch 100 years previously (a re-telling of the Rapunzel story), and the other the story of the wicked witch herself and her childhood.

If nothing else, this boo
Forsyth's first book that I read left me rather unimpressed, but this one is vastly better not just in terms of plotting and characterisation but also in being more accurate historically.

However, it still presents the same issues as the former, and so I've come to believe it's a repetitive weakness in this author. Namely, information overload and name-dropping.

The thing is, since she's not familiar with the periods she sets her stories in, Forsyth has to investigate and do research, document her

OK – so you want more than wow? As a child I devoured the Hans Christian Anderson and the Grimm Brothers stories. Rapunzel was one of my favourite Grimm stories and I was delighted to see that the BITTER GREENS character Charlotte-Rose de la Force was a real historical figure who wrote the story of Persinette which was adapted by the Grimm brothers who presented it as Rapunzel.

Too complicated? Then don’t worry about it – just read the story and allow yourself to be swept away into a wh
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Bitter Greens is a fantastic book. One of the best I’ve read all year.

Kate Forsyth is a marvelous writer, combining gorgeously lush descriptions, beautifully crafted characters, and strong but realistic heroines that all have interconnected stories. I don’t know what more else I can say that hasn’t already been said by others.

Published earlier in Australia, I had to wait many years before this novel was widely available in America (thank you for finally bringing it over!). Not only does it captu
Heather Webb
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Enchanting, lyrical, rhythmic are all words I would use to describe Kate Forsyth's prose in BITTER GREENS. I read this novel at precisely the right time--when my schedule was overly busy, my stress levels high, and so much of the world seemed dark--a time when I needed the exquisite escape of a beautiful novel. I look forward to reading much more by this author.
Sonja P.
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-women-2015
When I finished this, I felt relieved.
Meg - A Bookish Affair
4.5 stars. Oh, this book! I really, really liked it! Part historical fiction, part fairy tale retelling, "Bitter Greens" has a lot of things that I really love! Historical fiction is one of my very favorite genres (maybe you've noticed?). I also really love fairy tale retellings. It's so much fun to see a new spin on a beloved story. This book is a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale. It also tells the story of the woman credited with first writing the Rapunzel story and it tells the story behi ...more
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Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling author of 40 books for both adults and children.

Her books for adults include 'Beauty in Thorns', the true love story behind a famous painting of 'Sleeping Beauty'; 'The Beast's Garden', a retelling of the Grimm version of 'Beauty & the Beast', set in the German underground resistance to Hitler in WW

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“I had always been a great talker and teller of tales.
'You should put a lock on that tongue of yours. It's long enough and sharp enough to slit your own throat,' our guardian warned me, the night before I left home to go to the royal court at Versailles ... I just laughed. 'Don't you know a woman's tongue is her sword? You wouldn't want me to let my only weapon rust, would you?”
“Each word was shaped with certainty, and I felt, more strongly than ever before in my life, that I had at last found my true path. I knew the story would change as I told it. No one can tell as tory without transforming it in some way; it is part of the magic of storytelling. Like the troubadors of the past, who hid their messages in poems, songs and fairy tales, I too would hide my true purpose [ … ]
It was by telling stories that I would save myself.”
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