Rapunzel gets real

Bitter Greens - Kate Forsyth

This is the first time I have read a novel by Kate Forsyth and I was drawn to the book as it was re-imagination of the Rapunzel fairy tale. I love fairy tales and I love how authors are revisiting these wonderful tales.
What Kate Forsyth has achieved in this novel is quite remarkable as she has blended history, fantasy, magic, religion and romance into an enthralling tale about three women.  From the first page you are drawn into this wonderful world that lifts off the page.

The central character is Charlotte Rose de la Force who having been banished to a convent after a series of scandalous love affairs during the reign of the Sun King Louis XIV.  As Charlotte attempts to come to terms with her banishment she recounts her lovers, the trials and tribulations of court life and her own desires to be a free woman who can write and earn a living.
Margherita’s tale is entwined with that of Selena as they make their living in Vienna during the Renaissance. Margherita is the innocent, stolen from her parents at a young age and finds herself at the mercy of Selena. Selena is a courtesan and a woman with the most interesting past. It is their story that is the basis of the Rapunzel retelling.

I do not want to expose too much about the characters because they are all complex, flawed, have beautiful background stories and as a reader it is a wonderful journey of discovery that you undertake learning about the characters. This is one of the pure joys of the novel is the discovery of the characters and how they grow and develop.
The research in this novel is exquisite and it is so beautifully folded into the story. You feel that you are In Louis’s court with all the intrigue. The characterisation of the role of women in society is captured perfectly. Women are powerful, yet powerless and are a tradeable commodity.

This book is rich in detail, rich in imagination and an amazing read. It is hard to find the right superlatives to describe this book so I will not. Read it and be immersed in Forsyth’s world.