Posts Tagged ‘romance’

The Wild Girl – Kate Forsyth

Posted in Fairytales, Historical Fiction on August 12th, 2013 by admin – 8 Comments

The Wild Girl


Allison & Busby



My Rating
5 fairytale stars!


Following the success of the beautiful Bitter Greens, Kate Forsyth is back to tempt our senses with another visually stunning novel, The Wild Girl.  Whilst much has been written about the Brothers Grimm, much less is known about the sources of their tales, especially Dortchen Wild who lived next door  to the Grimm family.  Dortchen was the second youngest in a family of six daughters and one son and she was a close friend of the Grimms’ only sister, Lotte.  We know which stories were provided by Dortchen but little about her family life – a life which is reimagined by the author.

Fairy tales are extremely popular in modern culture, from the saccharine representations in Disney films to the only slightly feistier Once Upon A Time tv series.  However, these somewhat idealistic images are far removed from the reality of daily life for the Grimms, Wilds and their fellow citizens in Hesse-Cassel, a small German kingdom.   For a while, the Wilds are better off than most  but when the French army invade in 1806, everyone faces hardship and hunger.  Forsyth expertly weaves the personal story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild against the sweeping backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars.  We see how the war affects ordinary folk, how they detest the invaders whilst growing to appreciate the new freedoms accorded by the Napoleonic Code.

This is also a love story, albeit a turbulent one with little hope of “happy ever after” along the way.  Dortchen falls in love with Wilhelm Grimm the first time she sees him, aged twelve.  Unfortunately, her father disapproves of the Grimms and  their lack of income as they struggle to generate money from their collection of traditional tales.   As the story  unfolds, we see a more sinister side to Herr Grimm and realise that he isn’t concerned with his children’s welfare at all.  Just as the Grimms had to alter the more gruesome, sordid aspects of stories to make them more palatable for a wider audience, Dortchen also hides the dark secret of her father’s systematic abuse.  This theme isn’t sensationalised, it’s simply heartbreaking and you realise how difficult it is for Dortchen to break free, if indeed she ever will…

A beautiful story with dark themes, a tale to be savoured as you hope for that elusive happy ending.  Like another of my favourite authors, Philippa Gregory, Kate Forsyth has that magic touch which resurrects the forgotten heroines of history, the women who played key roles but who were overshadowed by the men.   When I next see a reference  to Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin or The Elves and the Shoemaker, I’ll think of the Sisters Wild – it has a nice ring  to it, don’t you think?


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About the Author

Kate Forsyth is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 books for adults and children , translated into 13 languages. She was recently named in the Top 25 of Australia’s Favourite Novelists. Since The Witches of Eileanan was named a Best First Novel by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for many awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She’s also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Gypsy Crown series of children’s historical novels. Kate’s latest novel, Bitter Greens, interweaves a retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale with the scandalous life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer Charlotte-Rose de la Force. It has been called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’ and ‘an imaginative weaving of magic, fairy tale and history’. A direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, Kate is currently studying a doctorate in fairy tales at the University of Technology in Sydney, where she lives by the sea, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.

Please visit Kate Forsyth’s WEBSITE and BLOG for more information. You can also find her on FACEBOOK and follow her on TWITTER.

My thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours for inviting me to participate in this, my first blog tour!  Hope I passed the test. :-)

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The Elephant Girl – Henriette Gyland

Posted in Contemporary Fiction, Romance on July 19th, 2013 by admin – 4 Comments

The Elephant Girl


Choc Lit


My Rating
4 stars -  I have a few more lined up from this publisher and am now looking forward to them even more!

The Elephant Girl is the second novel from Henriette Gyland and one of many new titles from Choc Lit, a relatively new publisher which publishes stories for women with romance at the forefront.  I never thought I’d ever be a fan of contemporary romantic fiction but I don’t mind being proven wrong here and more recently by another of Choc Lit’s titles, Beneath an Irish Sky.

There are two key characters in The Elephant Girl,  Helen Stephens and Jason Moody, both in their mid-twenties, who meet in supposedly random circumstances.  Little does Jason know that Helen is a woman on a mission, determined to track down the woman responsible for her mother’s death 20 years beforehand.

In this cleverly plotted tale, the author successfully blends romance and mystery with a dash of thriller for good measure.  Fear not, ye wimps (like me) who don’t fare too well with blood and gore, this is crime-lite, an ideal holiday read to put a smile on your face…or maybe an occasional  frown as you might want to knock Helen and Jason’s heads together but  then the path of true love never did run smoothly!

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The Secrets Between Us – Louise Douglas

Posted in Contemporary Fiction on September 9th, 2011 by admin – 4 Comments

This is my second book choice from The Transworld Reading Challenge and, I’m delighted to say, another good selection.  I haven’t read any of Louise Douglas’ back catalogue as I am not usually fond of “romance” novels but the comparisons with Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca attracted me to this, her latest novel.

Sarah has experienced more than her fair share of misfortune recently and she hopes to find some tranquility when she joins her sister and her brother in law for a holiday in Sicily but instead she discovers Alexander and his young son, Jamie.  The mysterious Genevieve,  Alexander’s “perfect” wife, has apparently vanished off the face of the earth but Sarah is smitten with Alexander and Jamie and she jumps at the chance of a new romance and a new life with them in sleepy Burrington Stoke.  However, there are too many secrets and unsolved mysteries for life to run smoothly.

I really enjoyed this riveting story, full of twists and turns and found it hard to put down.   Sarah’s friends and family are convinced that she has set herself up for a fall and Alexander does little to prove them wrong.  There is a ghostly feel to the story, Sarah is haunted by her own past and also feels the presence of Genevieve at Avalon.  You’re kept on the edge of your seat, constantly wondering who is the real villain of the piece.  Yes, you have to suspend disbelief at times but this is such a gripping storyline, who really cares – the more fantastical elements are neatly balanced by vivid, fleshed out characters.  An absorbing read from a very talented storyteller.

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Review – Ondine – Ebony McKenna

Posted in YA Fiction on March 6th, 2010 by admin – 1 Comment

Format: Paperback 336 pages


Egmont Books Ltd




Not your typical boy meets girl story but rather, girl meets enchanted ferret, falls in love and strives to break the spell which has transformed him from handsome young man into hirsute pet.

Ondine de Groot, our 15 year old heroine, runs away from Psychic Summer Camp accompanied by her new acquaintance, Shambles, the ferret. Ondine returns home to her family and discovers en route that Shambles can speak albeit with a strong Scottish accent and,at times, incomprehensible dialect (Fear not, there are ample footnotes which provide translation).
Yes, this is quite a sweet fairy tale romance but it is very much enhanced and fortified by the inclusion of Shambles whose humour and wit is great comedy value. The footnotes also provide an air of authenticity, providing more information about Ondine’s fictional hometown Brugel and frequent comic asides.
Against this fairytale background we witness the very realistic representation of a teenage crush, family conflicts and sibling rivalry. Ondine is a clever, independent young lady who knows what she wants in life but achieves her aims without veering too far from the straight and narrow.
This is a fun, romantic, well written read which would appeal to young girls aged 12+ who enjoy intelligent and witty writing.
Thank you to Waterstones for sending me this proof for review.

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