A new perspective on Grimm’s Faerie Tales comes from today’s offering, The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth and narrated by Kate Reading. Please read on for my review of this audiobook title.
One of six daughters, Dorchen was the ‘wild one’ of the family and one who held both imagination and daring close. Her family was well off for the time: a pharmacist, he expected his girls to have a certain level of suitor, one that the lowly and impoverished Grimm family could not hope to meet.
It is during the time of Napoleon, and his encroachment through Europe strikes fear and unease in the people. During this time, Dorchen and Wilhelm Grimm have formed a friendship, and the two are never far apart. Kate Forsyth mixes historical fiction and imagined events to build the young characters as they share stories and tales: Dorchen’s imagination and flair for the dramatic make her a wonderful storyteller, and she shares tales with Wilhelm, tales that will soon fall into the realm of the forgotten as Napoleon is taking over and remaking Europe in a manner of his own choosing. The old tales and stories are important to Wilhelm, as he sees them as a part of his own history. Bit by bit, Dorchen is encouraged to remember and retell these stories, stories that will soon form the majority of tales we now know as Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
As the 6th of 7 daughters, the recognition, attention and even possibilities for marriage or a life of her own choosing are slim, particularly as her father has his own plans, and isn’t a particularly jocular or kindly sort. When the time together blooms from distraction to friendship to love, she is denied permission to marry, and this sets up some of the hauntingly dark and often brutal moments of the story. In fact, Dorchen and Wilhelm did eventually marry, and his collaboration of forbidden folk tales with his brother came into existence as simple fairy tales, with no acknowledgment of either their history or Dorchen’s part in the story.
Narration is provided by Kate Reading and she has a tone and presentation style that perfectly highlights the story, adding emotion, emphasis, and silences where required, shifting subtly to announce or present each character and clearly imbue the story with the overriding emotion of the moment: childlike joy, fear, anger, stealth.
While moments run from wonderfully engaging to dark and brutal, Forsyth’s writing style maintains a smooth and easy to follow flow, quietly inserting actual events around the moments of imagined conversation and emotion, bringing both to life. A weighty story at almost 18 hours listening time, this story does break neatly into sections – you can listen and break, mull over what you have covered, and be ready to pick up the next bit. As a fan of historic fiction and one who appreciates the old style of fairy tale, it was a wonderful addition full of moments that transport and entertain.
Stars: Overall 5 Narration 5 Story 5
Title: The Wild Girl
Author: Kate Forsyth
Genre: Historical Fiction
Narrator: Kate Reading
Published by: Blackstone Audio, Random House Australia
Published on: July 7, 2015
Source: AudioBook Jukebox
Audio Length: 17 Hours: 41 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance
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.
The Wild Girl tells the story of Dortchen Wild. Growing up next door to the Grimm brothers in Hesse-Cassel, a small German kingdom, Dortchen told Wilhelm some of the most powerful and compelling stories in the famous fairytale 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, the only girl in the Grimm family, 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 fairytales that year, wanting to save the old stories told in spinning-circles and by the fire from the domination of French culture.
Dortchen was the source of many of the tales in the Grimm brother’s first collection of fairy tales, which was published in 1812, the year of Napoleon’s disastrous march on Russia.
Dortchen’s own 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 fairytale 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.
A copy of this title was provided via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.