Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Blog Tour Review: The Wild Girl


The Wild Girl
Kate Forsyth
2013

'Do you not know that story? It's about a little brother and sister who get lost in the forest, and find a witch's cottage made all of gingerbread. I'll tell it to you, if you like.'

I love fairy tales. Like, proper love them. Reading The Wild Girl, a book about fairy tales and written through fairy tales, was pretty much a totally joyful experience. The writing, the story, the woman question, the fairy tales - so, so good. It was heartbreaking, uplifting and brilliantly informative.

Once there were six sisters.
The pretty one, the musical one,
the clever one, the helpful one, the young one...
And then there was the wild one.

Dortchen is the wild one. Under the shadow of her ruthless father (a nasty piece of work if there ever was one), and against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, Dortchen and Wilhelm Grimm fall in love and begin piecing together a pretty special collection of stories and tales.

This book is written so brilliantly. The fairy tales are woven with such artistic precision into perfect points throughout the story. Some of the tales are familiar, others are not at all and some are remnants of the stories they have become. Although we all know the famous fairy tales so well, the way they are merged into this novel makes them seem really quite new. They become part of Dortchen's story not just some independent collection of stories that just turned up somewhere one day. Dortchen's story is an interesting one and I would love to find out more about it. You've gotta love the female underdog who secretly has power over all the men but hides it so well until BOOM she kicks out and shows them all how awesome she is. I love those women.

The history aspect of the novel I found very interesting. I know nothing about the Napoleonic Wars and this actual makes me not want to because they sound brutal. I've only got room the brutality of WW1 in my head right now. Still, I think Kate Forsyth paints a really good picture of the struggles of the period and life in Germany under French rule. I would not want to live there. But I do love how the stories then become like lights in the darkness. Not only for the reader but for the characters themselves - the process of storytelling becomes a little escape from Herr Wild, from poverty, from the wars and momentarily from reality. Because of this historical background The Wild Girl is occasionally very violent, almost uncomfortably so but not in a way that made me not want to read it. More in a way that made me hope for a good resolution and that made me even more invested in the characters. Seriously, it's been a while since I have cared about characters as much as I cared about Dortchen and her sisters.

I was really interested in storytelling at uni so I love the emphasis on storytelling in the oral forms and how the novel explores how stories change and develop through the generations. The stories are even adjusted through each volume of the tales to either appease society, make the stories more child friendly or for more personal reasons relating to Wilhelm and Dortchen (I really love Kate's afterword and her interpretation/explanation of these changes). I think considering the significant role of storytelling in the novel, the traditional happy ending could not be avoided. It is what you expect, what you hope for and it is exactly what the book needs. I have never wanted a happy ending more and neither have I been more satisfied by a happy ending.

I know at it's core the book is about significant romance in the history of storytelling but I was very pleased that the romance does not overwhelm the story. By which I mean it is not overwritten to the point that I (as a person without much romantic feeling) am forced to gag. The balance between the love bits and the life bits is just rather perfect. Plus there is just such an awesome undercurrent of women's rights that I was, more often than not, properly fist pumping the air in agreement with whichever girl was kicking metaphorical ass at that point in time. Usually Hanne. Hanne is awesome. 

The Wild Girl is a brilliant piece of historical fiction. It is a wonderfully written novel with an engaging (and emotional) story. It is a book to be devoured in very few sittings, with a box of tissues on hand and no one around to judge you for sobbing your heart out.

And finally, how beautiful is that cover?!

Interested in which fairy tale is Kate Forsyth's favourite or which female character she finds the most intriguing? Or even her top reads this year? Yes? Check back on Thursday to read my interview with Kate.




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14 comments

  1. I just heard about this book for the first time yesterday and it sounds SOOOO good!

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    1. It is SO good! So many emotions and brilliantly written to boot.

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  2. Book tour posts don't often catch my attention, but this one sounds really, really good! I will have to check it out :)

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    1. Definitely do, it will be worth it :)

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  3. I agree with every single part of this review, I'm glad you loved it as much as I did! I forgot to mention Hanne in my review but yes, she is awesome.

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    1. Hanne is so cool! The whole forest/forbidden romance thing was actually kinda cool. I'm glad we're in agreement :)

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  4. Ellie, thank you so much! I'm so happy you loved my Wild Girl, and I really love that you got my woman-learning-to-stand-up-for-herself-and-speak-out vibe. I'm really glad I made you sob your heart out :)

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    1. Thank you for reading my review! I am always drawn to those vibes, love a bit of girl power :D

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  5. I've got this one to read for the blog tour too, starting it soon, can't wait! Glad you loved it.

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  6. This one looks awesome! Can't wait to get my paws on it!

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    1. It is so awesome. I'd love to hear your thoughts when you do get your paws on it :)

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  7. I do like that cover, it's beautiful. The story sounds great too!

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    1. So, so beautiful! Yes, the story does match the brilliance of the cover.

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