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The Beast's Garden

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,150 ratings  ·  222 reviews
A retelling of The Beauty and The Beast set in Nazi Germany

The Grimm Brothers published a beautiful version of the Beauty & the Beast tale called ‘The Singing, Springing Lark' in 1819. It combines the well-known story of a daughter who marries a beast in order to save her father with another key fairy tale motif, the search for the lost bridegroom. In ‘The Singing, Spr
Paperback, 512 pages
Published August 3rd 2015 by Random House Australia
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Christine Beyleveldt If you live in North America you might be out of luck. Kate Forsyth's books don't get published in the US until a couple of years after the initial…moreIf you live in North America you might be out of luck. Kate Forsyth's books don't get published in the US until a couple of years after the initial release in Australia, I end up having her books shipped from Sydney up here to Canada because can't wait long enough to start reading them.(less)
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Margaret Sharman I got the idea it was Stella Goldschlag, the blonde Jewess from the Hot Club. Towards the end of the book (page 345) Jutta was hiding out in the…moreI got the idea it was Stella Goldschlag, the blonde Jewess from the Hot Club. Towards the end of the book (page 345) Jutta was hiding out in the cemetery and she saw the Gestapo take away some mourners. Some money passed between the Gestapo officer and a young blonde woman who Jutta recognized as Stella. Later on (page 350 - 353) Ava goes looking for Jutta and meets Stella. During their conversation Ava becomes suspicious. When she finally meets up with Jutta on Page 352, Jutta confirms that Stella is a Jew catcher.(less)

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4.03  · 
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 ·  1,150 ratings  ·  222 reviews

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Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-books
A haunting portrait of life during Nazi occupied Germany, with gentle undertones of a Grimm Brothers fairy tale, ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’ or an offshoot of Beauty and The Beast, is Australian author Kate Forsyth’s 2015 release, The Beast’s Garden. I felt compelled to read The Beast’s Garden, as Forsyth is a novelist who comes highly recommended by many readers. I was also intrigued as to how her fairytale retelling would work under a wartime backdrop. For me, any literature that stands out ...more
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
My first foray into this author's work. This isn't a preferred genre for me, and my two star rating doesn't reflect this authors tremendous work on this novel. Her afterward reflects her intense level of interest, and subsequently, research into the subject of Hitler's time. This book is a great reflection of this. Germany is exquisitely visualised in this book, and I learned a lot from this novel.

I will definitely read this author again, but this book was not for me, really only as historical
Kim Wilkins
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have read many of Kate's books and loved them all, but this one has got under my skin like no other. I read it in two gulps (over two days), because I was so invested in what would happen to these characters I had come to love. Ava, who is complex and strong and weak sometimes too. Libertas and Jutta: tenacious, wonderful women with strong moral compasses, who refused to give up. Rupert--oh, god, Rupert. I loved him like my own brother and his poetry was sublime. Leo: brilliantly rendered so t ...more
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Kate Forsyth is doing something remarkable with her adult historical fiction: combining fairy tales with historical eras, weaving the whimsy of magic with the realities of history. It's not an easy combination to pull off, and she succeeded brilliantly with it in her first adult novel "Bitter Greens" - one of my all-time favorite reads.

In "The Beast's Garden", she adapts the original Grimm version of the beloved fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" and sets her story in Nazi Berlin, opening with K
Dec 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, historical
This book is being promoted as a Beauty and the Beast re-telling, but that it not completely accurate. It is more a re-telling of The Singing, Springing Lark , a variant of the Beauty and the Beast tale, though the second half of the story is quite different and is more in line with East of the Moon, West of the Sun. Having said that, Forsyth incorporates motifs, such as roses, from the more familiar Beauty and the Beast.

Being unfamiliar with The Singing, Springing Lark , I set down
Sep 03, 2015 rated it liked it
This was the first Kate Forsyth novel that I’ve read (I should probably hang my head in shame at that) and I had high hopes for The Beast’s Garden. Perhaps it was going into the novel with such high hopes that ultimately lead to my disappointment with it. While there was much I enjoyed, I wasn’t completely engaged by it.

I’m someone who loves fairy tale re-tellings – so why didn’t I fall head over heels for this?

The relationship development between the Leo and Ava is limited. They almost fall i
S.B. Wright
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very well known for The Witches of Eileanan Series, Kate Forsyth continues to establish a foothold as a writer of historical fiction for adults.

It began (at least in my reading of her work) with Bitter Greens, which managed to blend historical fiction with myth and fairytale; to give the reader a set of tales that inhabited a narrative borderlands where the fiction and non-fiction elements were separated only by a thin veil.

Then with The Wild Girl, (Forsyth’s tale based on the life of Gretchen
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
The Beast's Garden is set in Berlin from late 1938 until just after the end of the war. A loose retelling of the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale, "The Singing, Springing Lark" (itself a variant of the more well-known "The Beauty and the Beast"), the combination of setting and love story makes for an often tense, harrowing reading experience. The main protagonist, Ava Falkenhorst, is a native Berliner, her father a German psychoanalyst and professor, her mother a Spanish singer who died giving birth. ...more
This novel is a good example of sacrificing characterisation and storyline for the sake of showing off one's research.

The idea of retelling the German version of the famous fairy tale Beauty and the Beast published by the Brothers Grimm that goes with the title "The Singing, Springing Lark" in an hitherto never done setting was a good one, but I believe the author simply didn't know how to do it well because she's not familiar with the period and the mentality of the time as she should, nor does
Isa Lavinia
Jan 06, 2016 marked it as bye-felicia
I just don't think that some things should be turned into romantic fairytales... like, oh, I don't know... the Holocaust.
Jan 17, 2015 marked it as nope

Okay, so, while I'm really enjoying Forysth's Bitter Greens so far...

I have Very Serious opinions about the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. It's my One True Fairytale, my heart, my love. It means quite a lot to me. I also have Very Serious opinions about Nazis in fiction, namely: For fuck's sake, don't try to make them sympathetic. And especially don't use a Nazi officer as the "Beast," oh my God.

I realize the husband in question isn't actually a Nazi but a spy, but still, having the Beast char
May 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved Beauty by Robin McKinley and I adore Kate Forsyth so I thought that The Beast’s Garden would be a wonderful magical retelling. Despite the horribleness of the setting (I meant the nasty gruesome war rather than the actual place), I thought that this would be an excellent foil for Beauty’s courage and generosity. In the end, whilst I have very much enjoyed the story, I’d say that The Beast’s Garden is inspired by (rather than a retelling of) ‘The Singing, Springing Lark', the Grimm Brothe ...more
Misha Husnain Ali
Sep 14, 2016 marked it as gave-up-on
Shelves: just-no
60% in and I just give up.

The premise sounded exciting: a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story set in Germany during the second World War. The execution is sadly so lackluster that despite the reading level being around YA-ish, I genuinely don't care to read any more words in this book.

Meet Ava, a woman so self-centered that her thoughts when her Jewish best friend from practically birth is hauled away to a prison camp by Nazis are to wonder if the attractive young German spy she has the
Eugenia (Genie In A Book)
*This review also appears on my blog Genie In A Book*

The Beast's Garden took me on an emotional journey from beginning to end, with a suite of dynamic characters and a series of events which left me reeling. I'm no stranger to Kate Forsyth's retellings, and after loving both Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl - the bar was set high. However, in this case she has once again accomplished what she does best in producing a beautifully crafted novel which explores the both the horrors and inner circle o
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I must say, I am in awe of Kate Forsyth. I cannot fathom how her writing just keeps getting better and better. To put it in one sentence – The Beast’s Garden is amazing. Set in Berlin in WWII The Beast’s Garden is a retelling of The Singing, Springing Lark (a Grimm Brothers’ variant of Beauty & the Beast) but this is more than a retelling and varies a little from Kate’s previous work as the historical research into this time period, bringing it to life as she has, is compelling and incredibl ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have been reading A Man Called Intrepid, a non-fiction WWII story about a spy called William Stephenson aka INTREPID, at the same time as The Beast's Garden. The common elements between the two books demonstrate just how much actual history Kate Forsyth has wrapped around her story. In particular, I was fascinated by both accounts of Heydrich. The depth of knowledge Kate displays here shows such a commitment to this story and makes it all the more real and powerful. I really enjoyed it.
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a historical fiction novel set in WW2, this book is great. It's filled with conspiracies, lies, love and revenge. The novel flows at a good pace and is really raw in its depiction of war torn Berlin. I didn't give this novel 5 stars because it is supposed to be a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and in that aspect I felt like it fell short. I couldn't really see the comparisons between the original tale and Forsyth's tale. I feel like she could have done a little more with Leo and Ava's rela ...more
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply stated, the 'Beast's Garden' is an EXTRAordinary book. Kate Forsyth does an exceptional job in blending the fiction and non fiction of this tumultuous period in time. This World War II thriller encapsulates so much that the reader is enveloped within the pages and it's difficult to come back to reality. The multifaceted components are seamlessly bought together - romance, action, fairytale connotations - leaving you in awe of the penmanship of Forsyth.

Full review at:

Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Whew - what an emotional journey.
Mina De Caro (Mina's Bookshelf)
Kate Forsyth is not new to the fascinating world of fairytale re-tellings. Her latest historical novel, THE BEAST'S GARDEN, is a winning addition to the genre. Read my 5 star review on Mina's Bookshelf.

Kate Forsyth is not new to the fascinating world of fairytale re-tellings. In Bitter Greens, she unraveled the allegorical threads of a traditional folktale, better known to most of us as 'Rapunzel', she bared it down to its archetypal simplicity, and on tha
Kirsty Dummin
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hard to read for all its accuracy of WW2, but also gripping and impossible to put down.
Theresa Smith
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a vividly beautiful book The Beast’s Garden is. Kate Forsyth has managed to weave an unforgettable tale of love, honour, betrayal and bravery, that will stay with me for a long time I expect.
Set against the backdrop of WWII within Nazi Germany, this story sets itself apart right from the outset. I’ve read many books set during this era, they are certainly not few and far between, but I had never read one from the perspective of a German woman or a Nazi Officer, and that’s where this book c
Alicia Papp
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
I very much enjoyed Kate Forsyth's books Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl, but I must admit, The Beast's Garden left me cold. It may be that being unfamiliar with the time period of the first two books kept and maintained my interest, and I did find those stories quite captivating. But honestly, being the age I am, you can't escape having been steeped in WWII history, through study, books, films and documentaries - so I have read much better, moving and involving historical fiction than this, and ...more

4.5 stars

Kate Forsyth is one of my 'keeper' authors, a favourite author whose storytelling is a rare gift. Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl will always have my heart but The Beast's Garden was another beautiful addition to her repertoire.

The Beast's Garden is a retelling of The Singing, Springing Lark, a Grimm Brothers' variant of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. I love fairy tales, and I adore retellings ... they keep our love of fairy tales alive for generations to come, inspiring us to s
Originally published on my blog

I'm a huge fan of Kate Forsyth, so I was eagerly awaiting this release.

At first I was a bit weary about this, thinking it would romanticise Nazism, but thankfully--and this is not a spoiler, it's on the back of the book--the nazi soldier is a spy working to assassinate Hitler.

As always, her writing is gorgeous, though this time I noticed that she used colours to describe noises, and noises to describe colours, which I found artistic and appealing, since the main ch
Karen Brooks
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I finished The Beast’s Garden, the latest novel by one of my all-time favourite authors, Australian writer, Kate Forsyth, a while ago and found myself so deeply affected and moved by the story that I bided my time before reviewing it. I had extreme visceral responses to what’s ostensibly a love story set against the horrendous backdrop of Nazi Germany.
The Beast’s Garden explores the lead up to World War Two: the targeting of the Jews, the pogroms, the “Final Solution”, as well as the resistance
Sydney Young
I met this author this summer at the US Historical Novel Society 2017 semi-annual conference in Oregon. Everyone was oohing and ahing over her, and then she got up at the final Dinner and told an old Irish Tale that was handed down in her family. She was amazing so I bought this book. It's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (actually, the Grimm Brother's version) set in Nazi Germany. It was wonderful and so much more than I thought I'd get based on the cover. Also, I loved the Narrator. Forsyth ...more
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’m a longtime fan of Kate Forsyth (I vividly remember stalking the bookstore shelves waiting for each Witches of Eileanan book to be released), and particularly loved her last two books, The Wild Girl and Bitter Greens, and was thus extremely happy to be asked to read and review The Beast’s Garden.

I will admit up front, I went into this book with a small sense of trepidation. I had very high hopes, based on how good The Wild Girl and Bitter Greens were, but I did wonder about the premise of The
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

Inspired by the Grimm Brothers fairytales, most notably ‘The Singing, Springing Lark', a variant of Beauty and the Beast, Kate Forsyth weaves a compelling tale of romance, war, heartbreak and courage in The Beast's Garden.

The Beast's Garden opens in 1938 as Hitler begins to persecute the Jewish population of Berlin. Nineteen year old songstress Ava Falkenhorst is stunned by the violence, and horrified when close family friends, the Feidlers are targeted simply for being Jewish. When Ava's childh
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Kate Forsyth is one of my favourite Australian authors, and her re-telling of the Rapunzel fairytale in Bitter Greens is still with me, years after reading it.

The Beast's Garden is Kate Forsyth's latest re-telling and is based on the fairytale Beauty and the Beast. In this case, the beauty is Ava, a talented and beautiful young German woman and the beast of the title is Leo, an intelligent Nazi Officer with an unexpected love of poetry.

Set in Nazi Germany during WWII, Ava rejects all of Leo's a
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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 i
“Ava's father believed that myths and fairy tales - like dreams - opened a window into the unconscious. by listening to the language of dreams and old tales, he said, all humans could learn to understand themselves and the world, better.” 6 likes
“Nothing opens up the mind and the heart like books do, and so they have the power to change the whole world. That's why the are burning books, Ava. To stop us thinking, and feeling, and imagining...” 5 likes
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