Monday, March 17, 2014

Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman

Back Cover

A riveting tale from the author of The Orphanmaster about a wild girl from Nevada who lands in Manhattan’s Gilded Age society.

Jean Zimmerman’s new novel tells of the dramatic events that transpire when an alluring, blazingly smart eighteen-year-old girl named Bronwyn, reputedly raised by wolves in the wilds of Nevada, is adopted in 1875 by the Delegates, an outlandishly wealthy Manhattan couple, and taken back East to be civilized and introduced into high society.

Bronwyn hits the highly mannered world of Edith Wharton–era Manhattan like a bomb. A series of suitors, both young and old, find her irresistible, but the willful girl’s illicit lovers begin to turn up murdered.

Zimmerman’s tale is narrated by the Delegate’s son, a Harvard anatomy student. The tormented, self-dramatizing Hugo Delegate speaks from a prison cell where he is prepared to take the fall for his beloved Savage Girl. This narrative—a love story and a mystery with a powerful sense of fable—is his confession.

Review by 

Set in late 1800’s America, Jean Zimmerman's SAVAGE GIRL is a sweeping novel that will take readers from the wild west to the gilded era of Manhattan. 

Hugo Delegate is the son of an incredibly wealthy father. He suffers from blackouts that affect his education. After he drops out of Harvard, he joins his parents on a trip to the western United States by railway car. There he encounters a travelling road show where he meets a young woman raised by wolves. The family takes in the young woman, named Bronwyn. They are determined to civilize her until she can be ultimately released into the highest levels of society. Bronwyn not only takes well to her new life, but it soon becomes clear she has her own plans. As Hugo’s fondness for Bronwyn progresses into love, he is mystified by a chain of murders that occur in places recently frequented by Bronwyn. His love is so profound, he seeks to cover her tracks.

The characters in this novel are completely unpredictable and highly faulted. Their actions left me in a state of steady conflict and guessing. No one seems normal. Bronwyn is a character of darkness and light, while Hugo is both steady and weak in many ways. That makes them very real and credible. The plot unfolds steadily, brilliantly, and I was left guessing as to the real truth behind the murders until the end. Of course, plot is wonderfully appealing, engaging me from start to finish. If you like tales with a touch of the unusual, of dark secrets and deep mysteries, and about the extremes of wealth and poverty and intriguing settings, then this book will definitely please.  

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