Desert Isle Keeper
The Wild Girl
This is an extremely difficult book to rate. At turns beautiful and gruesome, much like the fairytales that surround and weave through it, it chronicles the largely unknown life of Dortchen Wild, a next door neighbor of the sprawling Grimm family. Dortchen has as many sisters as the Grimms have brothers, which is why she becomes best friends with the only female Grimm sibling, Lotte. Dortchen’s imagination and innocence make her a believer in and collector of fairy tales, which becomes a useful commodity when Wilhelm and Jakob, two of the brothers, start collecting local folktales to be printed.
Dortchen becomes infatuated with Wilhelm, a feeling she holds onto all of her adolescence, and one that slowly blossoms into shared love as she and Wilhelm reach adulthood. Unfortunately, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, Dortchen’s father’s descent into abusive alcoholism, and the brothers’ move into exalted circles wrench Dortchen and Wilhelm apart. Can they solve their problems? Will they ever again see each other?
Forsyth produces an impeccably researched novel, with some achingly beautiful prose. The romance between Wilhelm and Dortchen is beautifully realized from beginning to end, and the barren in-between time desolate and painfully hard to endure. The novel is richly rewarding, even with the difficult material it contains.
(NOTE: Contains Incestual Rape and Abuse)