The Wild Girl

Written by Kate Forsyth

Beautifully written and told is this story of Dortchen Wild, who fell in love with Wilhelm Grimm the first time she saw him and helped him to collect the fairy tales for the famous collection. My personal reservation is that I found Dortchen highly irritating at times and wished that the blurb had not led me to believe that the story started like a Grimms’ fairy tale would, as the blurb did: ‘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.’ That’s how I wanted the story to start. However, historical facts about Dortchen were almost nonexistent, so Kate Forsyth had a free hand to imagine things. She has a somewhat ‘grim’ imagination, which suits the tone of many of the fairy tales retold in the novel. We follow poor Dortchen’s struggle to marry Wilhelm through the Napoleonic wars, French occupation, and family disasters to the final happy ending. It’s quite a fairy tale in itself and well worth reading.