Publication Date: 18th March 2013
Book Source: Book win from Kate Forsyth :)
Synopsis: Dortchen Wild fell in love with Wilhelm Grimm the first time she saw him.
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'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read a novel by Australian author Kate Forsyth. I purchased Bitter Greens in 2012 after reading a number of glowing reviews but *shame face* it's still unread ... I won't be stupid twice ;)
The Wild Girl is an exquisite package, an epic tale of love, war and fairytales, impeccably researched, deftly layered and beautifully wrought. Kate, you hoped I'd be enchanted ... I truly was.
My copies of the Grimm Brothers fairytales from childhood are well loved and enjoyed still but I've never actually read anything about Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm nor Henriette Dorothea (Dortchen) Wild, the girl who lived next door to the Grimm family, so for me this was a uniquely special experience. Age old fairytales, some familiar, some not, are seamlessly blended with the narrative, contributing authenticity, poignancy and magic.
Haunting, breathtaking, evocative The Wild Girl has a dark beauty that left me speechless and in tears more than once, in turn entranced, outraged, horrified and saddened.
Kate Forsyth captures the complexities of the human spirit with raw sensitivity ... frailties, cruelties on one hand, courage, selflessness and goodness on the other. Dortchen's father gave me nightmares, whilst I loved the detailed apothecary descriptions I was secretly hoping Dortchen would use her vast herbal knowledge and give her father a much needed dose of something lethal ... and painful!
Dortchen Wild fell in love with Wilhelm Grimm the first time she saw him. She was only twelve years old, but love has never been something that can be constrained by age. It happened in the way of old tales, in an instant, changing everything forever. It was a fork in the path, the turn of a key, the kindling of a lantern.
Through the Napoleonic Wars, poverty, sickness, abuse, Dortchen's love for Wilhelm is steadfast, her spirit crushed over the years by the oppressive control of her father, hope and longing remain palpable.
... the end came all too soon but weeks later I sigh as I remember the beauty.
The Wild Girl is a gift of storytelling about storytelling, it deserves to enter the exalted realm of classics.
Recommend: An emphatic YES