Book review: A novel for all you adults who miss a good fairytale…

I have always loved fairytales. I remember making my Grandma act out Snow White with me when I was a little girl. At university I studied their evolution and it turns out, unsurprisingly when you think about it, that in their original forms they are in no way suitable for children. The same can be said of Bitter Greens, Kate Forsyth’s beautiful new novel that breathes life into the Rapunzel story.

book review Bitter Greens - London Mums

Bitter Greens weaves together the tales of three women that span centuries and Western Europe. We visit the court of Louis XIV with Charlotte-Rose de la Force, the first woman to commit this particular fairytale to paper. Selena Leonelli, a dangerous and bewitching courtesan in 16th Century Venice, has a dark secret. Finally there’s little Margherita who is sold for a handful of herbs. Each strand is compelling and Forsyth’s writing brings a lyricism and humour to the well-balanced narrative.

The best comparison to make is probably with Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. Both involve re-imaginings of classic European fairytales and dart between the horrific and comic. There are some pleasing feminist undertones in Bitter Greens and the historical details have clearly been well-researched. I feel I know much more about the French court now!

I will make my earlier point again – it is not suitable for children or young teenagers. There are a couple of pretty brutal scenes which do play important parts in the narrative, but may be disturbing for younger readers.

If you like a love story with a dark side and compelling characters then it is definitely worth picking up a copy!

Facebook Comments