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 18-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.
©2014 Jean Zimmerman (P)2014 Penguin Audio
Great premise, boring story. Narrator is Hugo Delegate read by Edoardo Ballerini, who seems to be channeling David Hyde Pierce's Niles Crane. The character of Hugo Delegate is an improbable one that feels like it was written by a woman: He is a sensitive male, androgynous to a fault, prone to regular fainting spells and his thoughts and speech are fussy and affected: not your typical "leading man" type and therefore an unlikely suitor for Savage Girl. The girl herself is enigmatic but undeveloped as a character and it is hard to stay interested in the plot, which wants to be bigger and more important than it is. By the end, when the twist reveals itself, it is unimpressive, hardly surprising and disappointing. The whole thing is unbelievable and would have been better written as a fairytale, not historical fiction.
I both listened and read this wonderful, literate book. With the e-reader, I was able to pause and look up words for a fuller understanding of the prose. And with the audio I was pulled fully into this rich, atmospheric story.
An absolutely wonderful story ! The ending was so satisfying. I especially note this because I have read so many books that lose narrative momentum and just "crash" at the end. I was smiling as I finished this !
I received this book from netgalley and when I started reading the ARC I realized I was reading it in Edoardo Ballerini’s voice, so I took to twitter to tell the publisher that he should narrate this audiobook and my answer came from Edoardo himself saying he had just finished recording it and it would be out soon. So needless to say I stopped reading the ARC and waited for the audiobook and I was not disappointed, his narration was perfect his accents and characters were spot on and I found I was right his was the perfect voice for this audiobook.
This book grabbed me from the start and it did keep me guessing as to who was killing the men, however there were times the story was disjointed and hard to figure out when in time it was, because it is told in flashbacks.
I liked it but I didn’t love it. Parts of this story I really enjoyed and as I said it kept me guessing and I would have never guessed who the eventual killer ended up being, so that was good, but the way the story was told I felt hampered the story. I felt at times it was because Hugo, who is telling the story, was so frenetic and so the story felt that way too.
I also felt I didn’t really get to know Bronwyn (savage girl) at all even though this story is about her and I also felt like Hugo didn’t really get to know her either and that his fanatic love for her that was on the verge of obsession was all in his head from his first meeting with her, so their “love story” almost felt forced to me because we the reader had no idea just what her feelings for Hugo may have been. I wanted to know more about Bronwyn and wish there would have been a little more about how the family was able to get her from Savage Girl to ladylike Bronwyn.
What I did enjoy was the sense of the time and it also has a bit of a gothic feel and the edge of your seat I can’t figure out who the real murderer is, was well done.
This was a good story but the frenetic way it is told is a little off-putting.
3 ½ Stars
5 Star Narration
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