Moving between Imperial China and France during the ‘Terror’ of the French Revolution and inspired by the true story of the quest for a blood-red rose.
Viviane de Faitaud has grown up alone at the Chateau de Belisama-sur-le-Lac in Brittany, for her father, the Marquis de Ravoisier, lives at the court of Louis XVI in Versailles. After a hailstorm destroys the chateau's orchards, gardens and fields an ambitious young Welshman, David Stronach, accepts the commission to plan the chateau's new gardens in the hope of making his name as a landscape designer.
David and Viviane fall in love, but it is an impossible romance. Her father has betrothed her to a rich duke who she is forced to marry and David is hunted from the property. Viviane goes to court and becomes a maid-in-waiting to Marie-Antoinette and a member of the extended royal family. Angry and embittered, David sails away from England with Lord Macartney, the British ambassador, who hopes to open up trade with Imperial China.
In Canton, the British embassy at last receives news from home, including their first reports of the French Revolution. David hears the story of 'The Blue Rose', a Chinese fable of impossible love, and discovers the blood-red rose growing in the wintry garden. He realises that he is still in love with Viviane and must find her.
Viviane escapes the guillotine and returns to the ruin of Chateau de Belisima to rebuild her life. David carrying a cluster of rosehips finds her there, and together they decide to grow the fabled red rose of China in France.
Kate Forsyth (born 1966) is an Australian author. She is best known for her historical novel Bitter Greens, which interweaves a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale with the true life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force.
Forsyth is also the author of several children's books, including The Gypsy Crown, The Puzzle Ring The Starthorn Tree, The Wildkin's Curse, The Starkin Crown and Dragon Gold. She has also published two heroic fantasy series, The Witches of Eileanan and Rhiannon's Ride, the poetry collection Radiance, and the novel Full Fathom Five under her maiden name, Kate Humphrey. She is a five-time Aurealis Award winner.