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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 26 March 2017
This was a vibrantly written book with so many interesting characters and such in depth emotional writing. It was a great book which made me excited to come and read it.
However, at least 40 counts of rape in this novel and gang rape at one particular point so avoid this book if that would bother you.
Sometimes this book could be a little melodramatic and the ending was weak, but I did like that this book was based on a real french woman.
It was nice to read about France and Italy in history for once, and the Rapunzel re-telling was done really well and made a lot of sense.
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on 15 June 2014
'Bitter Greens' is the story of three women, Charlotte-Rose de la Force, Selena and Margherita. Charlotte-Rose finds herself removed from the court of Versailles by Louis XIV because of her various love affairs, Charlotte-Rose does not act like the other ladies of the court, she is never demur, unforgettable but Charlotte-Rose dreams of having a husband and her own family. Selena is a woman of mystery, you learn more about her beginnings and how she uses witchcraft to get what she wants and Margherita, the young girl who finds herself the victim of a mistake that her parents made.

It took me awhile to get into 'Bitter Greens' but I am pleased I kept reading because it is a great story, all of the women are connected and I enjoyed reading their stories.

Highly recommended.
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on 15 January 2014
A very enjoyable book. I bought it because I love re-written fairy tales, but, when I came to read it, it was the realistic episodes describing life at the court of Louis IVth that I enjoyed most, although I did like the version of Rapunzel, and the story of the witch - here given the chance to speak for herself. I also liked the way all the themes were brought together at the end.
It is a very sensuous book, full of descriptions of magnificent clothes, lavish entertainments, lovely fabrics, and the beautiful people of the French court - along with the horrors of the Bastille prison, and the harsh conditions of the convent where the narrator endures her exile.
Throughly recommended.
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on 18 September 2017
This is a really good read interlacing of an inventive retelling of the Rapunzel story with the life of the author of the tale who was a member of the court of Louis the 14th. The story of the latter was as gripping as the the clever take on the fairy tale itself. I intend to read more by Ms Forsyth.
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on 31 March 2017
This retelling of Rapunzel plus the history of the first published author a fascinating lady at the French court kept me spell bound (like some of the characters). If you like fantasy, history or just fairy tales you will enjoy this
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on 17 July 2015
I enjoyed the story very much and found it was only marred slightly by the use of modern language and terms which wouldn't have been used in the 17th Century.
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on 23 March 2017
Fairytales,history, romance .Enoyable.Revisted my childhood with this story of Rapunzel and all the history of the period thrown in.Looking forward to reading the next one.
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on 22 November 2015
Brilliant read . Most enjoyable
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on 24 October 2014
In the novel Bitter Greens, Kate Forsyth has combined historical biographical fiction with the famous fairy tale, Rapunzel, written by Charlotte Rose de Camont. The result is a lush tale that combines the individual stories of three women. In seventeenth century France, Charlotte Rose de Camont de la Force, is banished from the opulence of the royal court and sent to live an austere life of severity in a rigidly ruled convent. There, she meets Sister Seraphina who tells her the story of Margherita (Persinette or Little Parsley) a young girl imprisoned in a tall tower by a witch named La Strega Bella. The novel’s storyline unfolds piece by piece through the voices of these three fascinating characters.

The strength of this novel lies in the wonderfully imaginative plot and superbly developed characters. Some scenes are very dark, with each character facing horrendous adversity that enthralls the reader. Some scenes are incredibly warm and heart-warming, filled with romance and success. In between readers can expect a very fast paced story with an ever evolving plot with plenty of twists and turns.

Despite the fact that Rapunzel is a fairy tale we are all familiar with, the author’s writing style makes it not only plausible, but very realistic and believable. The historical portions of the story are also vividly depicted and are well-researched. Most appealing is the fact the author does not shy away from extremes – poverty and wealth, innocence and corruption, good and evil, illness and health. Reading this book was a pleasant surprise. A novel written with insight and depth, and immensely entertaining. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
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on 28 October 2014
This is a lovely story, my dear readers, unhurried, bittersweet and contemplative. The reason for my subdued rating is purely subjective. You see, the story is split between three characters, and some of them I liked more than the others.

Charlotte-Rose is a middle-aged writer at the court of The Sun King Louis XIV. She is disgraced by his displeasure at the scandal surrounding her life and her writing and sent to the convent. Over the course of the story she starts by arriving to the convent and then remembering her life and events leading to her present situation.

Margherita is a young girl from a poor family of a mask maker in Venice. Her story is a basis of the fairy tale which we know as Rapunzel. It starts when when she is 7 years old and meets a wicked witch and ends when she is sixteen.

At last, there is a story of the wicked witch, Selena Leonelli, who reigns as a famous courtesan of Venice.

I was mostly fascinated by Charlotte-Rose's story because one of my favourite book series of all time Angelique by Sergeanne Golon is written at the same time and involves quite a lot of the same characters but in a different light. Athenais, Francoise de Maintenon, La Voisin, the poisonings, the king and his famous mistresses.... It was a fascinating account of an impoverished aristocratic woman with no beauty or dowry struggling to find her happiness at the court famous for its excess and extravagance. And Charlotte-Rose did not disappoint me in this regard, although my heart was breaking for her.

The other two characters I enjoyed reading about, and while they were dramatic in their own right, there was a surreal gloss of fairytale about them, so to me they didn't feel as real or as heart-wrenching as Charlotte-Rose.

All in all, it's a quiet, very enjoyable tale which would suit to any fan of fairytale retellings. Both Renaissance Italy and France of Louis XIV were beautifully depicted, and it was very easy to immerse oneself in those worlds along with the heroines of the story. I found this book very pleasurable and would recommend it to anyone.

P.S. Like all fairytales Bitter Greens has darkness and violence typical of the historical period, so don't expect Disney sugar-coated version of Rapunzel. You are forewarned, folks
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