Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review of BITTER GREENS by Kate Forsyth

Bitter GreensBitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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. Railing against her fate, she finds herself drawn against her will into the confidences of a beatific nun, who relays to her the story of Marguerita, an innocent living in sixteenth century Venice who is sold to a rapacious witch for a handful of bitter greens. Interwoven with these tales is the haunting, seductive parable of the courtesan Selena, muse of the artist Tiziano and Renaissance survivor, who has locked away her heart from the fickle vagaries of men to cultivate an untouchable wealth and youth that demand the ultimate price.

From these threads, each an exquisite rendering of the struggles of women in a world that discards love in favor of power, Ms Forsyth weaves the bewitching origins of Rapunzel, and the revelation of how each woman becomes part of the fairytale. The writing alone is breathtaking, but the heart of this novel lies in Forsyth's unquenchable empathy for her characters, and her innate understanding of how myriad compromises and disappointments, betrayals and pain can calcify the soul, as well as how strength of spirit can arise in the most arid places, instilling hope and invoking change.

BITTER GREENS is the work of a master writer at the very top of her game; a novel to be read and savored, and then read again.

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Kimberlee said...

I've been wanting to read this one. Thanks for the great review!!


Mystica said...

Thank you for a good review. Making a note of this for my TBR

Margaret said...

Nice review, thanks. Here is another book that seems to be popping up everywhere. I'll take that as a sign I need to read it.

James Curtis said...

Wow, I'll follow up this books, can't wait to read it. I'm also a reader of historical books such as
best african american books and historical fiction.