Book Review: Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman

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Savage Girl introduces us to Bronwyn, a strong, independent girl who is adopted by a wealthy Manhattan couple. She takes her new world by storm as suitors find her irresistible…and deadly.


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.

(Note: I originally wrote this review on March 14, 2014)

I was randomly selected to receive an advanced digital copy of this novel through this site I signed up to. Which is pretty cool and exciting.

It really took me a while to get used to the prose. At times the descriptions would be quite poetic. (Page 80: No other landscape I had ever experienced more proved the point that beauty and terror are sisters. I stared out at the desert and felt its challenge.)

I liked the historical fiction aspect when it came to reading about America’s landscape and city life in the late 1800’s. However, the author would get too carried away until it became a rambling tangent that interrupted the narrative. It also did not make it easier to read when it came to Hugo’s present day confession and the words exchanged between Hugo and his laywers were not in quotations. I often had to reread paragraphs to figure out what was said out loud and by whom.

I understand why Hugo was the narrator, it is a confession after all and makes for an interesting twist, but I often found him unlikable. Also, when he was not at home with Bronwyn I found him a bit dull. I was curious to see Bronwyn’s transformation through another character’s point of view. Perhaps Tu-Li or Tahktoo.

All that being said, I pushed through. I found it picked up in Part 2 and became an interesting mystery. I liked the philosophical nature vs. nurture brought up in the story. I enjoyed the story and am glad I pushed through to finish it, but I cannot say I loved it.

Overall I would rate it 3 out of 5 suitors.

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