Title: The Wild Girl
Author: Kate Forsyth
Genre: Historical, Romance
Growing up in the small German kingdom of Hessen-Cassel in early Nineteenth century, Dortchen Wild is irresistibly drawn to the boy next door, the young and handsome fairy tale scholar Wilhelm Grimm. It is a time of War, tyranny and terror. Napoleon Bonaparte wants to conquer all of Europe, and Hessen-Cassel is one of the first kingdoms to fall. Forced to live under oppressive French rule, the Grimm brothers decide to save old tales that had once been told by the firesides of houses grand and small all over the land. Dortchen knows many beautiful old stories, such as ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘The Frog King’ and ‘Six Swans’. As she tells them to Wilhelm, their love blossoms. Yet the Grimm family is desperately poor, and Dortchen’s father has other plans for his daughter. Marriage is an impossible dream. Dortchen can only hope that happy endings are not just the stuff of fairy tales
I loved THE WILD GIRL! Simply loved it. Though she didn’t realise it the pressure was on for author Kate Forsyth because after recently reading Bitter Greens I had high very expectations. Expectations that were not only met but exceeded! When I first laid eyes on the book I was a bit overwhelmed, after all it is over 500 pages, it was huge. Then I opened the book and read “…Dortchen Wild fell in love with Wilhelm Grimm the first time she saw him…” and I was hooked, size and time had no meaning as I was immersed in the unfolding story. I was brought up on the Grimm Brothers tales, loved them, but if I thought of the Grimm brothers at all it was as dour old men who looked like my grandfather and liked to scare children with stories. I also never thought about where the tales came from, I just presumed the creepy Grimms had made them up. However, Kate Forsyth has showed the Grimms to be passionate young men with a desire to record the oral traditional stories of their country before they disappeared into the mire of war, as borders changed and hundreds and thousands died across Europe.
THE WILD GIRL is a blend of historical fact and plausible fiction, and like all good fairy tales there is a truly horrible character, the baddie if you will, and Dortchen, our goodie, has some terrible things happen to her that she needs to overcome before her prince will come. Well Wilhelm anyway. Forsyth says in her afterword that there are a lot of blanks in the historical facts behind the prolonged courtship of Dortchen and Wilhelm and she filled the blanks in by reading between the lines of evidence given. Although there is no historical evidence for the events that happen in Dortchen’s personal life, the plot that Forsyth has come up with, although dire, is very feasible indeed.
THE WILD GIRL must not be missed; it is a powerful story about storytelling, about love in the harshest of conditions, overcoming adversity. It is also about the cruelty of war, the cruelty by those who should protect you, deprivation and obedience to parents no matter what. It is a strong story and the abuse is handled delicately and with compassion. The pages just flew by; I did not get bogged down once. I have to confess to once or twice logging onto the Internet to find some of the locations mentioned in the book. The historical facts of Napoleon’s advance, then retreat, through Europe are as fascinating as they are horrifying in the atrocities and stupidity of some of the military decisions. My favourite parts were the about social history of people, it was interesting to read how they changed the way they dressed and spoke to accommodate the current ruler of the day. I loved the herb lore and a look into the pharmacy available at the time. Also how the flowers and herbs were put to other uses, more superstitious in nature, to help people achieved their desires.
Rating: A – Excellent. I could not put it down.
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Many thanks to the author for arranging this copy.
The Wild Girl. is book # 14 for AWW2013