Book Review: BITTER GREENS, Kate Forsyth

I saw Kate Forsyth speak at last year’s Genrecon, and I was captivated by the panel’s opinions on modern-day retellings of fairy tales and of the ways the tales are told have changed since the violent and sexually-charged tellings that were first set down.

Bitter Greens is a retelling of the story of Rapunzel, entwined with the stories of Charlotte-Rose de la Force, the French noblewoman who, while forced into exile in a convent, first set down the version of Rapunzel we now know, Petrosinella, and with the story of Selena Leonelli, one of Titian’s muses, as a witch who is terrified of aging.

I loved this novel, combining as it did a strong understanding of history, both of the court of the Sun King (Louis XIV) and of Venice (I’m actually in the middle of a history of Venice, Venice: Pure City, by Peter Ackroyd, quite accidentally, which made Bitter Greens even more enthralling.)

It’s a story (or three) of love, and rejection, and power, and a thousand other things – the characters are brilliantly entangled, like Petrosinella’s hair, and the magic is different (to me, at least) and utterly believable, and the prose is delightful. 

A fantastic novel, and by an Australian, too.

Pick it up.


“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?” 

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: BITTER GREENS, Kate Forsyth

  1. Sounds like a legit premise. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing! If you’re into zombies and apocalyptic stuff, check out: http://www.theapocalypsebites.com. Cheers!

  2. […] Dagger of Dresnia by Satima Flavell, which she enjoyed and is anticipating the sequel. We also had Chris White review Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, a luscious retelling of Rapunzel, which he […]

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