Last year I had the pleasure of reading Bitter Greens by Kate Forysth and falling helplessly in love with her writing, characters and story-telling. I am honored to be highlighting this newest book of hers, The Wild Girl, here on the blog today.
About the Book
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 really can’t think of anyone else who can pull in the authentic feel of history and incorporate it into a story so moving and real as Kate Forsyth. Her writing completely steals my heart and leaves me breathless. Reading her books you can see how knowledgeable Forsyth is about the historical elements and people she writes about. The level of depth she added to her The Wild Girl was both beautiful and gut-wrenching.
Our main character, Dortchen, did not have an easy life and she deals with some really traumatic events as well as difficult topics to read about (there are some rather detailed scenes of abuse both emotional and sexual in nature). There were parts of the book where I wanted to throttle the page. I hurt with Dortchen and felt so connected to her character that what she experienced impacted me deeply.
I went into this story ignorant to the story surrounding the Grimm brothers and loved seeing the way they were utilized in this story. Little tidbits, translated from German, started each chapter and I found these to be incredibly interesting. As you see from the summary the Grimm family are side characters and we really delve into Dortchen’s life and family. With the backdrop of the story being during such a tumultuous time in history the reader really gets sucked into the time period and hardships of the people.
I had very little knowledge of Bonaparte going into reading this novel but I had taken a German literature class in college. Because of this, I could see tidbits of the German culture I had learned about (and honestly mostly forgotten). Forsyth did a brilliant job of transporting her reader to this time period and location.
The love story between Wilhelm and Dortchen was very much one sided (or so it seemed to me) at the beginning. The story starts with Dortchen being a very young girl and admiring Wilhelm as an intelligent, sweet older boy. The two do have an age difference between them but given the historical time period and way the relationship was written I was not bothered. Their relationship was incredibly sweet to me and was one of the only elements of this book that was easy to read.
I have to admit, I was prepared to read about the difficultly of living in a war-torn society and about the growing love between Dortchen and Wilhelm but I was not prepared for the abuse Dortchen suffered at the hands of her father. Though it was incredibly difficult to read about it was handled with care and respect.
Go into The Wild Girl prepared to feel many emotions, be swept away with Forsyth’s story-telling, characters and ability to recreate a historical time period. Though this book dealt with uncomfortable topics in regards to Dortchen’s family life I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Grimm brothers, history and incredibly character portrayals.
This giveaway is US only. The publisher has been kind enough to provide the winner a hardcover of The Wild Girl
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