Bitter Greens

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

To be published: Sept 23, 2014


Charlotte-Rose de la Force, a middle-aged woman, is being shipped off to a French nunnery against her will, by the Sun King Louis XIV. Her story starts out with her as a young girl, an impoverished French noblewoman who becomes a lady-in-waiting at the French court. It is through her scandalous affairs and writing that she ends up in her current situation. In order to survive at the convent, Charlotte-Rose begins listening to one of the Sisters tell the story of Persinette, a young Italian girl from 16th century Venice. The girl was taken from her family and imprisoned by a witch. The storyteller reveals not only the story of the girl Margherita, but also that of her captor, the courtesan sorceress Selena Leonelli. Charlotte-Rose later takes this story and fashions it into her own version called Petrosinella, which inspires the Grimm Brothers to later write Rapunzel. 3-1/2 stars.

I almost didn’t finish this book because it was so long-winded in the middle. It’s not that it wasn’t interesting. In fact, I found it incredibly fascinating, but it just seemed like the author was trying to squish too much into the book. I love detailed-orientated books but it was overwhelming in this instance. It’s hard to tie in stories of three different women whose stories intertwined over the course of 200 years, and I think Charlotte-Rose’s story got a bit bogged down in the retelling. All three women were imprisoned in one way or another, either in actuality and/or the will of the society at the time. One thing this book did make me glad for is living in the time period I do because I would’ve gone crazy in Charlotte-Rose’s situation, especially in regards to the King. My favorite story was that of the witch Selena and her involvement with the painter Titian.

Disclaimer: I received the advanced reader’s copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.