The Wild Girl

The Wild Girl

The Wild Girl

by Kate Forsyth

Vintage, $32.95 pb, 539 pp, 9781741668490

In the German kingdom of Hessen-Cassel, twelve-year-old Dortchen Wild falls in love with her scholarly neighbour Wilhelm Grimm amid the turbulent lead-up to the Napoleonic Wars. When Wilhelm and his brother Jakob undertake the task of collecting folk and fairy tales to preserve their national heritage, Dortchen becomes a willing source and participant, telling Wilhelm many of the stories that will become the Grimm brothers’ most famous ones. The romance between Dortchen and Wilhelm unfolds gently as Dortchen matures into womanhood. But no fairy tale is complete without a wicked stepmother or an impenetrable briar wood, and so it is with The Wild Girl. Her bright hopes are thwarted both by Wilhelm’s desperate poverty, and by the malevolent shadow of her own father, which soon coalesces into a reality of violence and abuse.

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Published in November 2013, no. 356

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