Ending the year on a strong note, I’m bringing it home with the last installment of
It is a testament to the tight plotting of this (much loved, recently reviewed) novel that any song on the following mix could apply to multiple characters.
1. Constant Craving – k.d. lang
Craving is the driving force of the Rapunzel tale, the whole story is set into motion by a burning desire for rampion from a witch’s garden. The witch makes her wicked bargain out of a craving for eternal youth. Charlotte craves love and independence, Margherita craves her freedom.
2. Don’t Call Me Baby – Madison Avenue
Both Selena and Charlotte dabble in flirtation, sensuality, and love…but they belong to themselves.
3. Hard Out Here – Lily Allen
Bitter Greens has multiple female characters with strong personalities and a yearning for self-determination, and their time and social station causes them to be punished severely for the audacity of their natures. Just a heads-up, this song is “explicit.”
4. Quando, Quando, Quando – Fergie
There’s a lot of sexy stuff in this book, in pretty much everyone’s plotlines. I liked the tension of the tango-infused Fergie version of this song, but not the will.I.am interjection. At various points Selena, Margherita, and Charlotte all spend time playing waiting games with their lovers…or at least men upon whom they have designs.
5. Bésame Mucho – Connie Francis
Like I said, lots of sexy stuff. Including at least three passionate love affairs.
6. I Put a Spell On You – Nina Simone
La Bella Strega, Charlotte, and Athenaïs (along with many other members of the French court) all cast their spells. Margherita existence is marked by witchcraft throughout. Magic and possession, themes of both this song and the Rapunzel tale in general.
7. Come to My Window – Melissa Etheridge
Charlotte goes searching for a lost love, Margherita waits for a prince at her tower window.
8. I Am Not My Hair – India Arie
Doubtless not the singer’s initial intent, but this song has a lot to say about a novel full of women valued (or devalued) for their superficial qualities. Shorn nuns and a girl bound in a tower by her tresses.
9. Ave Maria – Sarah Brightman
I picked this version because Brightman’s clear soprano reminded me of Margherita’s love of music and singing ability, as well as Charlotte’s cloistered circumstances. Bitter Greens sees its female characters appealing to each other for intercession again and again, just as the singer of Ave Maria appeals to Mary, and the Catholic faith is a through line in all three stories.
10. Non, je ne regrette rien – Edith Piaf
Whatever their choices, Charlotte and Selena remain proud women who own their pasts.