BITTER GREENS has won the ALA Award for Best Historical Fiction 2015!
SEVEN FASCINATING THINGS I LEARNED WHILE WRITING BITTER GREENS
1. Charlotte-Rose de la Force, who first wrote the fairy tale we know of as Rapunzel, once dressed up as a dancing bear to rescue her much younger lover
2. She was second cousin to the Sun King, whose dogs slept on satin sheets in four-poster beds and ate off gold plates. His dwarves, however, slept on the floor in the corridor and were only tossed the occasional bone.
3. It was during the Sun King’s reign that champagne began to be drunk out of crystal glasses. This is because Louis XIV believed that glass was impervious to poison.
4. Vichyssoise was also invented during the Sun King’s reign. This is because it took so long for the king’s soup to reach his table. It had to be carried for miles through the corridors of Versailles, with everyone in the crowd curtsying and bowing as it passed, before being tasted by the taster to the taster to the taster to the King’s royal taster. I am not joking. Five different people tasted it before it reached the mouth of the king. No wonder it was always cold.
5. It was around this time that women started carrying little dogs in their handbags. This was so they could feed the soup to the dog first, and see if it died.
6. The Sun King and his court were not entirely paranoid. During his reign, a plot to poison the king was uncovered and led to the discovery of a criminal magical underworld in which fortune-tellers, witches and alchemists were doing a flourishing business selling “inheritance powders” made from arsenic and powdered toads. Two hundred people were implicated, including the king’s own mistress; 36 people were tortured and died at the stake.
7. The reason why it’s bad luck for actors to wear green is because Moliere, the Sun King’s favourite actor and playwright, was wearing a green coat when he died. He was in the middle of a scene in which a hypochondriac pretends to die. It took the audience a little while to work out he was not acting.