I’m in raptures over this novel. Kate Forsyth is a master storyteller and authority on faerie tales and has written a graceful read you won’t be able to put down. The narrative rhythms, details and characters are mesmerising and all centered around the tale of, The Sleeping Beauty.
On opening the covers, the reader is instantly transported into the community of the Pre-Raphaelite creatives in Victorian England. On the pinnacle of revolution, Beauty in Thorns, encapsulates the lives of the women who were lovers, wives, daughters and muses to these bohemian men. The timeless human conditions of purpose, addiction, desire, denial, deception, love, loss and the search for beauty are unveiled within the constraints of reality. The women’s stories besides, behind and on top of the visionary men are interwoven through seasonal vignettes that encompass a lifetime.
The sleeping beauty faerie tale is effortlessly intertwined through the subplots connecting each character’s motivation for freedom of expression. Their past secrets unwind into unique explanations of beauty and moral definition in their search for awakening.
Would you want to sleep for one hundred years? Characters demonstrate their answers. Sleep is not always peaceful and comes in many forms and interpretations. The diversity of characters and their responses kept me intrigued until the last page of the author’s note.
The lives and loves visited within the pages of, Beauty in Thorns, made this a book I could not put down. The great creatives of the time and their own stories emerge within the midst of the bohemian revolutionaries and anchored the narrative within history. I did not sleep, I was so captivated by the torments and secrets. The artists revelations and struggles with the creative process, to share with the world their complete interpretation and understanding of a moment and story in a piece of work, spellbound me. I laughed, sighed, shed a tear and was left feeling satisfied and content. The stories of these women, the strengths and weaknesses behind the complex men, tortured by their desire to create and leave an imprint of their own musings of story will captivate you. Their search for perfection and freedom of expression within an imperfect world.
This is a book you can escape into, its rhythm washes over you with the intricacies of love, desire, passions and purpose. A reflection on beauty within the changing social structure of pre-Raphaelite Europe, interwoven with the many interpretations of Briar Rose. The details of life within the times are delicately layered throughout the novel. I wasn’t aware of all I had absorbed until I put the book down feeling complete and content. I’m still reliving scenes, integrating and pondering Beauty in Thorns, it has left an imprint on my heart.
I have loved Kate’s previous books, The Beast’s Garden, the retelling of Beauty and the Beast or The Singing Springing Lark set in Nazi Germany and The Wild Girl which is set around the origins of the Brother Grim Faerie Tales. There is also Bitter Greens the retelling of Rapunzel. With each book released I have a new favorite and Beauty in Thorns did not disappoint.
I highly recommend Beauty in Thorns, for creatives, lovers of folklore, faerie tale, historical fiction and those who like to escape into a great read. I have bought six copies of this novel myself to give as gifts because I think everyone should be given the opportunity to read it.
For those wanting more visit the author’s website for a full reading guide and to secure your books. My only wish is Kate wrote faster, although each new release is worth the wait. Her work in progress:
“A fairy-tale infused historical novel for adults set in the late 18 th century, moving between Imperial China and France during the ‘Terror’ of the French Revolution, and inspired by the true story of a quest for a blood-red rose.
The novel will draw upon ‘The Blue Rose,’ a fairy tale set in China about a quest for an impossible rose” Kate Forsyth