BITTER GREENS has won the American Library Association (ALA) Award for Best Historical Novel.

 It was also chosen as one of the Best Historical Novels of 2014 by the Library Journal in the US, and was shortlisted for the Aurealis Award, the Ditmar Award, and the Norma K. Hemming Award (for which it received an Honourable Mention). 

Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. She is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens …

After Margherita’s father steals a handful of parsley, wintercress and rapunzel from the walled garden of the courtesan, Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off … unless he and his wife give away their little girl.

Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1513 and still inspiring him at the time of his death, sixty-one years later. Called La Strega Bella, Selena is at the centre of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.

Locked away in a tower, growing to womanhood, Margherita sings in the hope someone will hear her. One day, a young man does …

Three women, three lives, three stories, braided together to create a compelling story of desire, obsession, black magic, and the redemptive power of love.

Check out my Pinterest page to see my visual inspiration for Bitter Greens, or to see Titian’s many paintings of his muse, or to see as many beautiful Rapunzel paintings and illustrations that I could find.

Want to know the story behind the story? Check out my blogs on the inspirations and challenges of writing Bitter Greens