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|Length: 496 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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''Like a fairytale, The Wild Girl gives us an explosive and evocative set of truths set within a deceptively simple and delicately written story.'' --(The Newtown Review of Books)
''Against an intricately-crafted tapestry of early nineteenth-century German daily life and tumultuous, tragic historical events, the story of star-crossed lovers Dortchen Wild and Wilhelm Grimm unfolds with a kind of dreamy, haunting precision.'' --(Sophie Masson, author of Moonshine and Ashes)
''Kate Forsyth is a storyteller whose books are spun out of magic and folklore. In all her stories there are princesses and wild forests, imagined terrors and real darkness, escapes to be made and arms to fall into. She is the ultimate giver of dreams, taking a fairytale and turning it around to provide even more possibilities.'' --(Readings (AU))
''I wholeheartedly recommend The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth ... her prose is effortless to read and her tales ultimately uplifting.'' --(Booklover Book Reviews (AU))
''Wonderful. Whether you love fairy tales or historical fiction or romance, there is something for you.'' --(January Magazine)
''This book captivated me from the very first scene. An historical novel with a lot of heart which will appeal to lovers of Austen and the Brontes as well as those in love with Kate Morton and Philippa Gregory.'' --(John Purcell, Booktopia)
''I wholeheartedly recommend THE WILD GIRL by Kate Forsyth ... her prose is effortless to read and her tales ultimately uplifting.'' --(Booklover Book Reviews (AU))
''[A] richly imagined tale of the girl who gave the Grimm brothers some of their best stories … Ultimately, this novel inhabits the ground between Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel. It is both entertaining and serious-minded, but it has about it too that little touch of magic that makes Kate Forsyth's voice so distinctive, so uniquely Kate. An absolute pleasure to read.'' --(Kim Wilkins, author of Angel of Ruin)
''THE WILD GIRL is in turns beautiful, deeply disturbing, evocative and of course, like any good fairy story romance, features a signature happy ending.'' --(InkAshling)
''Forsyth's skill as a storyteller makes the narrative a pleasure to read through, a joy of immersive reading.'' --(The Bookonaut)
''I recommend THE WILD GIRL for fans of fairy tales and fantasy primarily, but also to historical fiction reader and those interested in the early 1800s and the way life was lived then. Lovers of bittersweet romance will also enjoy the book.'' --(Storybook Perfect)
''An absolutely beautiful and much recommended read.'' --(Stephanie Gunn)
''Kate Forsyth's 'The Wild Girl' is a remarkable tale that beautifully blends fact and fiction. It is a sweeping historical romance that will appeal to both adults and young adults, as it reminds us the power of storytelling and loving, even in the hardest of times.'' --(Alpha Reader)
''This story is not just for historical and romantic fiction readers - those who love fairy tales will also find plenty to fascinate them here. It's certainly one of my favourite reads so far this year!'' --(The Oaken Bookcase)
''Whether you love fairy tales or historical fiction or romance, there is something for you in The Wild Girl.'' --(The Great Raven) --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- Publication Date : July 7, 2015
- File Size : 676 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Thomas Dunne Books (July 7, 2015)
- ASIN : B00R1B5XBW
- Print Length : 496 pages
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Language: : English
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #545,957 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I love the way Kate infuses her stories with fairytales or folk lore whilst delving into real historical information and presenting it in a way that you can cant help but fall in love with the characters, the landscape and the journey.
This is a slow paced story that meanders along gently, through wars, invasions, abuse, drug use, hardship and family drama, it speaks softly and warmly and even in the most confronting scenes (sensitive readers should be aware of sexual abuse, physical abuse and drug use in this book which may be disconcerting) you somehow feel comforted.
I loved the detail of natural therapies, herbs and their uses, I have not previously read much about the Napoleanic rule, so I found that interesting and like another reviewer has said, it made me want to learn more about the Grimm brothers.
All of us have such lovely memories of our childhood stories/fairy tales and this novel takes an interesting look at where they came from and how they originated.
This novel has a good blend of drama, love, history, angst all wrapped up in a little bit of magic.
Told from Dortchen’s point of view, the novel spans many years and many tribulations – poverty, war, and separation. The reader is given insight into the rise, and fall of the Wild and Grimm families’ fortunes as well as that of the rather stern ruler of Hessen-Kassell who is later replaced by a hedonistic relative of Napoleon.
Jakob and Williem Grimm are scholars who decide to collect what are fundamentally “old wives” and children’s tales for publication. Obsessed with preserving what’s a part of their country’s culture and past, they search for interesting variations and folk to relay the stories which they painstakingly record. Enter Dortchen, by now a teenager and a very able and imaginative crafter and re-teller of the old tales. It’s as a storyteller that Williem, a handsome if somewhat unhealthy figure, finally views his neighbour and little sister, Lotte’s playmate, Dortchen, through different eyes, seeing her for the beautiful young woman she’s become.
Dortchen’s growth into womanhood is a wondrous and painful awakening into beauty, sexuality, responsibility and reality, the latter from which her friendship and passionate feelings for Williem Grimm and the stories that surround her have occasionally allowed her to escape. But reality catches Dortchen all too quickly and bleakly. Forbidden by her stern father from being courted by the impoverished Williem, Dortchen tries to accept what fate offers; but as a girl who loves stories, she also desires a different outcome. Alas, as she and Williem shift into different social circles and circumstances and people become obstacles that grow insurmountable, control of her destiny seems like something that belongs in one of Williem’s fairytales.
I don’t want to ruin the story for those who’ve not yet had the chance, but be warned, as I said above, this novel does not steer away from dealing directly with the darkest aspects of human nature – something which fairy and folk tales have always confronted – often (though not always) through allegory and metaphor. Whereas the Grimm’s were forced to moderate their collected tales for the market, here Forsyth let’s the human capacity for evil loose. Nightmares come to life in this book and it’s testimony to Forsyth’s skill and sensitivity towards her threatening subject matter that she deals with it unflinchingly and with rawness; it takes your breath away. I found myself dwelling on this part of the book and my emotions were thrown into a tumult. It may be because of personal history, but I also feel it’s because readers are able to empathise with Dortchen and the cruelty and paternal tyranny that’s inflicted upon her. It’s utterly shocking. And that’s before I discuss the casualties of war – not only those who lose their lives because of a game of politics thrones and power - but those who survive and simply endure its abuse and horror.
Against this darkness, however, a light shines in the form of love – that between siblings, friends and soul mates. No-one expresses yearning quite like Forsyth. She did it so beautifully in her first book, the wonderful The Witches of Eileann, she does it again in the sumptuous Bitter Greens but it’s here, in The Wild Girl, that it culminates into a palpable ache that reaches beyond the pages and into the reader’s soul.
Forsyth has undergone a great deal of research to write this book and come to some original and compelling conclusions about the tales and their tellers as well. The novel is peppered with some of the better and less known of the Grimm collection, so we’re given stories within stories and can draw our own comparison between the rich imaginative world of the women who pass them to the Grimms and Dortchen’s life as well.
Original, compelling, exquisitely written, this is a novel of epic and passionate proportions that offers readers so much and then even more. A book ostensibly about story-telling it’s also by a story-teller par excellence. I really think Forsyth is one of the finest writers of this generation and her work deserves the widest of audiences. She clearly takes so much pleasure and pride in what she does – but better still, she offers it in abundance as well.
Cannot recommend highly enough.
This is an intricate and absorbing novelized bio of Wilhelm Grimm's wife Dortchen Wild, who also served as one of his important story sources. Forsyth uses the few facts known about Wild and the multitude of facts known about Grimm to build a life-story paralleled and illuminated by the fairy tales Wild contributed to the Grimms' collection (including several of the most famous stories, such as "Hansel and Gretel" and a version of "Beauty and the Beast").
The sense of time and place is utterly wonderful, and Forsyth uses human, close-to-home aspects of the Napoleonic wars to anchor the setting. Tons of fascinating detail about clothes, food, flowers, herbs, medicines, society, and mores, and not one speck of this detail is forced or intrusive.
By the midpoint, I couldn't put it down.
Also, the minute I finished it, I ordered another of Forsyth's historicals, BITTER GREENS.
So why four stars instead of five? Because I reserve 5 stars for the small handful of my personal lifetime favorites.
P.S. One of the most significant questions about Wilhelm and Dortchen is why they married so late in life. Along with the usual explanations about Grimm's poverty and Wild's family responsibilities, Forsyth (examining the various editions of the murky and ambiguous story "All Kinds of Fur") posits a dark and secret reason for the delay. So certain scenes may trouble sensitive or very young readers, and for that reason I'd class this book as New Adult.
The way the abuse plot line unfolded was very disturbing. It was fairly obvious where this was going and it was horrible to read and to watch Dortchen become a shadow of her former self. So in that regard again the wonderful writing really helped (especially since I just bought the book on a whim and didn't know/hadn't heard anything about that particular plot.)
I thought the fairy tales themselves were well handled to. They didn't take away from the main story.
Top reviews from other countries
It is the very well researched tale of The Brothers Grimm and their neighbours, and concentrates on the relationship and romance between Wilhelm Grimm and the girl next door,who told him many of the tales which were recorded in his books.
The book finds a beautiful balance between fact and imagination.I found myself absorbed in the history and could see the houses, streets and people so clearly, I felt like I was actually there.I could almost smell the food cooking over the fire!
This isn't a flowery tale for the feint hearted.It is gritty and sad in places and there are descriptions of sexual abuse which are quite harrowing, though sensitively portrayed.
Kate Forsyth has obviously spent a long time researching her characters and has included all the history of the time in a very palatable way.She is a gifted story teller who has told the story of other gifted story tellers in a beautiful way.Thank goodness for The Brothers Grimm and thank goodness for Kate Forsyth.
danger and poverty of living in Germany through the Napoleonic wars. I loved the evocation of the life of the Grimm family and the family of Dortchen Wild,
who was the source of many of the folk tales. I had always wanted to know more about this time period, on the cusp of the Romantic movement, and found it
fascinatingly and believably evoked.
This is also a very clever book, revealing how the psychology of old legends and fairy tales can sometimes speak to and heal the lives of those who
tell them. The author has a very interesting take on how the tales that Dortchen told to Wilhlem Grimm were a vehicle for communicating a dark secret
that was hard to convey in any other way. This is based on the author's research and I found it very convincing.
This is a wonderful book, especially at winter time and for reading on snowy nights by the fireside. It also contains a satisfying slice of pre-
Highly recommend. I am now reading Bitter Greens and I hope that these books will be the first of many historical novels by Kate Forsyth.
I'd recently read Forsyth's earlier book for adults, Bitter Greens , a wonderfully woven story of the real woman at the court of Louis 1Vth, the Sun King, Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force, who was a story teller and writer, and how her life underlined the inner story of the fairy/folk tale of Rapunzel, one of the stories which she narrated. In that book, Forsyth does a brilliant juggling act with three voices, the real Charlotte Rose, the character within the Rapunzel story, and an ancient sister in a convent who explains a certain mystery around the Rapunzel story's real provenance.
In this later book, there is one central narrator told in the third person voice, that of Dortchen Wild, `The Wild Girl' (double meanings inherent). Set in the early part of the nineteenth century, the story is one of real people and real history, interspersed with versions of the folk tales the Grimm Brothers collected. However, where research yields certain facts, there are always holes in the why of things, and it is this which lies at the heart of Forsyth's book, both its strength, in lifting dry facts into something which makes sense in the lives of real people, and its weakness - sometimes suppositions may be delivered as a kind of dark secret, a skeleton in a cupboard; one which may in fact be either bare, or hold a different skeleton entirely.
The facts are these : the Grimm Brothers were very poor, and their family was large - mainly brothers, with one sister. This sister was the playmate of one of the daughters of a neighbouring large family - predominantly daughters, of a higher financial strata - the Wild father was a herbalist. One of the daughters, Dortchen, 7 years younger than Wilhem Grimm, was the source of many of those stories. Wilhelm and Dortchen wished to marry. The Wild paterfamilias was a harsh father and the poverty of the Grimm's meant permission was denied. Indeed, the Wild father was overbearing, cruel, and incredibly controlling, by all accounts. Neither Dortchen nor Wilhelm married others, though their regard for each other was noted.
The historical background of this was primarily taking place as Bonaparte was building France an Empire, and Europe - whether in countries already occupied by France, or fighting against occupation - was at war, and its citizens often near starvation to fund that war.
When the Wild father dies, the obstacle to Dortchen and William marrying was removed, yet there was a 10 year wait, filled with unhappiness for both, before that marriage happened, and it seemed to be in the end to have been a happy marriage, which both desired. It is Forsyth's `invention, or perhaps her intuition - true or false - which provides the answers to that 10 year wait.
I had a certain unease, which I get frequently, when the lives of real people are used for invention - specifically when what is invented may be blackwash. It may be true - but then again, it may not be. It's a kind of ethical dilemma really, possibly calumny against a long dead person whom no one has probably heard of (except research scholars)
My second slight disappointment was with the extreme, almost undecorated simplicity of the story-telling and language in which it is told. Forsyth is clear and plain, perhaps too clear, too plain - in some ways it is of course the perfect voice for the telling of a fairy tale, as this is the strength of the fairy tale, its language is unvarnished, without much in the way of descriptive embellishment. But fairy tales are short. This is a novel of over 500 pages, and I began to long for the dreadful waiting for Dortchen and Wilhelm to be condensed, for the story to be nipped and tucked and condensed - or, alternatively the language in which it was being told to have more variation and richness of tone
It is certainly a more than okay book, and the weaving of some of the stories being collected, and the real events in the lives of the two families, not to mention an excellent evocation of time, place and historical detail, are all strengths, but it needed more sparkle, I think, in the telling. True, there wasn't, often, much to sparkle at - unlike her earlier book, where both Charlotte-Rose and the ancient nun were both women of wit and vivacity - the central characters in this book are all fairly ground down and a little too dour to allow for much light and colour
3 ½ stars, rounded up
I enjoyed 'The Wild Girl' just as much, the character of Dortchen is brilliant to read, there is so much to like about her, she's responsible, spirited, caring, stubborn and tells wonderful stories which she shares with Wilhelm Grimm.
The story intertwines history that Dortchen and her family witness and suffer and the joys of storytelling. I felt they worked well together because during the times of darkness and unrest the stories that were shared helped the people around them. Dortchen's relationship with her father is complicated and as the story progresses it becomes more complicated, it leaps off the page as you read, I could not help but hate her father, there was rare moments of how caring he could be but they were few and far between.
Dortchen and Wilhelm's relationship was lovely to read and so much keeps them apart, I have never wanted characters in a book to have a happy ending as much as I wanted Dortchen and Wilhelm to have theirs.
After I finished 'The Wild Girl' I read about Wihelm and Dortchen, they had a good life together which make this story even more special.
I am looking forward to reading more books by Kate Forsyth.