Monday, December 29, 2014

The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

Rating 4 out of 5 stars
Format: Kindle Edition
Print Length: 515 pages
Publisher: Random House Australia (13 March 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0749015578
ISBN-13: 978-0749015572

One of the great untold love stories - how the Grimm brothers discovered their famous fairy tales - filled with drama and passion, and taking place during the Napoleonic Wars.Growing up next door to the Grimm brothers in Hesse-Cassel, a small German kingdom, Dortchen Wild told Wilhelm some of the most powerful and compelling stories in the famous fairy tale collection. Dortchen first met the Grimm brothers in 1805, when she was twelve. One of six sisters, Dortchen lived in the medieval quarter of Cassel, a town famous for its grand royal palace, its colossal statue of Herkules, and a fairytale castle of turrets and spires built as a love nest for the Prince-Elector's mistress. Dortchen was the same age as Lotte Grimm and the two became best friends.In 1806, Hesse-Cassel was invaded by the French. Napoleon created a new Kingdom of Westphalia, under the rule of his dissolute young brother Jérôme. The Grimm brothers began collecting fairy tales that year, wanting to save the old stories told in spinning-circles and by the fire from the domination of French culture. Dortchen's father was cruel and autocratic, and he beat and abused her. He frowned on the friendship between his daughters and the poverty-stricken Grimm Brothers. Dortchen had to meet Wilhelm in secret to tell him her stories. All the other sisters married and moved away, but Dortchen had to stay home and care for her sick parents. Even after the death of her father, Dortchen and Wilhelm could not marry - the Grimm brothers were so poor they were surviving on a single meal a day. After the overthrow of Napoleon and the eventual success of the fairy tale collection, Dortchen and Wilhelm were at last able to marry. They lived happily ever after with Wilhelm's elder brother Jakob for the rest of their lives.

What a powerful book. Even now after some time reading this book I do not know how to review this book. It was an incredibly dark, and sometimes horrifying book but at the same time fascinating read into a woman who had so much influence over one of the most famous children writers ever. At the end it is a story about good triumphing over evil.

This was not a happy story or a story that glosses over the realities of living in that time. The author does make some assumptions however they are well researched and explained assumptions.

I thought I should say a warning  about this book that it does describe some child abuse. This could be very difficult for some readers.

I still cant put all my thoughts into a concise review. On the one hand the writing and narrative is beautiful. Forsyth is able to build and describe beautiful worlds that are rich and believable. You could almost believe you had been there. The reader got to learn so much about living in this tiny hamlet of Germany during the reign of Bonaparte. We also learn the story behind the brothers Grimm.

On the other hand Forsyth does not gloss over anything or make Dortchen some but kicking heroine. It was hard to understand why Dortchen did not leave (especially when her sister did) but we forget that in those times leaving your home while unmarried would have been incredibly difficult. I can logically understand why the character did what she did but at the same time I wanted her to escape and get her happy ending.

Even though this was quite a dark and slow book (it does span most of her life) I still enjoyed it. It was a powerful story and an interesting story. I did want to see what happened and how her life turned out.

Would recommend to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

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