Step into a world of war, poverty and fairy tales, and love. Within the spell-binding covers lies the tale of Dortchen Wild, a major source of many of the fairy tales that we know and love today that were collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm during nineteenth century.
Kate Forsyth's lovingly crafted tale of history, fairy tale and romance spans many years and chronicles within a magical fictional world, the history of Cassel and the Napoleonic Wars, and the poverty that both the Wild family, with six daughters and one son, and their neighbours, the Grimms, with six sons and one daughter, experienced during the turmoil. A love that begins in 1805, when Dortchen is just twelve years of age and destined to be at home with her parents for the remainder of their lives.
Over the years, Dortchen and Wilhelm's love grew as she met in secret to tell him the tales she knew to be recorded as a mark of German national identity in a tumultuous time of war and invasion, that would ultimately lead to the German Wars of unification many years later under Bismarck.
The village of Cassel, though very real, could be the village and forest of many of the fairy tales that we know from Jacob, Wilhelm, and Dortchen. While reading, I imagined Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Cap (or Little Red Riding Hood as it's known today), and Snow White taking place in and around this magical yet dangerous land. Their families, at least for me, represented at times the fairy tale characters we know and love so well, and Kate did a wonderful job at bringing these to life for me. It is a book I will treasure for many years to come.
The tale ends just as a fairy tale might and its progression feels like a fairy tale, with history, magic, romance and a touch of mystery about the characters and events thrown in. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to read it again.