Charlotte-Rose de la Force, exiled from the court of the Sun King Louis XIV, has always been a great teller of tales.
Margherita, trapped in a doorless tower and burdened by tangles of her red-gold hair, must find a way to escape.
Three women, three lives, three stories, braided together in a compelling tale of desire, obsession and the redemptive power of love.
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth is an amazing historical novel that tells the story of three women. It is set in France in the time of the Sun King – the seventeenth century and in Italy in the late sixteenth century.
Charlotte Rose de la Force born in the south of France finds her way to Louis XIV court where she loves the goings on at court. Yet the King is capricious and Charlotte Rose is not always safe or her own boss. There is a hierarchy to be followed, the intrigue and gossip makes it dangerous at times. Charlotte is a Protestant and while the first reign of terror of the Huguenots is over, Louis is a Catholic and ready to continue to wield his power and spread terror among the protestants. It was sad reading of this time, it made me realise how religion was used in those days to create terror and destruction much as it is today in many parts of the world.
Selena Leonelli is a woman who makes her way in Italy, partly making her living by posing for and being the muse of the Venetian artist Titian. She is a great beauty and does not want to die. Her desire to stay a beauty and live for a long time leads her to witchcraft.
Margherita is the beloved daughter of two villagers in Italy, now trapped in a high tower by a woman who visits every full moon and requires her blood. Her story is recounted to Charlotte Rose when she finds herself in a place she never had any wish to be.
Charlotte Rose is a courageous and independent woman, at times she might be down but she is never out! Margherita might be locked in a high tower but she remembers she has parents who love her, despite what the woman who keeps her locked up tells her. She is resourceful and brave and her story is the retelling of the story that we know as Rapunzel.
This a very well written book and the research is obvious. I enjoyed reading the Afterward and learning a little more of how Charlotte Rose lived out her life after the book ends. While this is a novel of the imagination, Charlotte Rose de Caumont de la Force was an actual person in history. Fascinating.
If you enjoy fairy tale retellings and/or historical fiction then this book is a book that should be at the top of your list to read.
Want to know more – excellent reviews of this book are where I found out about this book.
Bitter Greens review by Shelleyrae at Book’d Out
Bitter Greens review by Teddyree at The Eclectic Reader.