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Savage Girl

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  954 Ratings  ·  237 Reviews
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 we
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published March 6th 2014 by Viking (first published March 1st 2014)
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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
I have a dilemma with this novel. The writing is excellent and the story engaging. Zimmerman brings this period to vivid life, from the man-tainted wastelands of Virginia City, Nevada to the false glitter of Gilded Age New York City. The characters aren't very sympathetic, honestly, and the longer the story went on, the more I disliked them. However, Zimmerman kept me guessing until the end.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine in the March 2014 issue. http://affa
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing

The BEST Historical Fiction I’ve read in a very long time, rich and rewarding. (I will write too much, here, but no big spoilers.) The Gilded Age years 1875-1876 come vividly alive as Hugo Delegate, the (fictitious) troubled, well-educated son of an outrageously wealthy Manhattan family tells the story to his lawyers; it’s an intriguing mystery centered on a (fictitious) wild girl, found in a side-show act in Virginia City, Nevada, the rowdy silver-rush town. Self-sufficient, smart, and determin
May Elise
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
The premise of Jean Zimmerman's "Savage Girl" is gripping: What would happen if a wealthy couple with everything they could possibly imagine came across a so-called "feral child" in a tawdry Nevada sideshow and decides to bring her back to New York and convert her into a society belle? With shades of Pygmalion crossed with the darker hue of Edith Wharton, "Savage Girl" posits this theory and adds another layer: What if all the men who show an erotic interest in the girl start to turn up dead and ...more
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-books
Jean Zimmerman's "Savage Girl" has so much going for it, right from the get-go:
1) It's set in New York City during the Gilded Age, my absolute favorite setting for novels in NYC.
2) The cover art is FIERECE. I mean look at Savage Girl.
3) Our narrator is delightfully unreliable, incredibly wealthy, and has a family that can only be kindly described as eccentric.

Weighing in at a solid 400+ pages, Savage Girl is a little slow to start, but soon you'll be flying through it. From the silver mines of t
Alisha Tarran
Savage Girl has obviously been very well researched, and I really wanted to enjoy the book as it intrigued me. The book to me was very long winded. There was so much detail filling the story that it interrupted the narrative in a very bad way. There where so many asides, and so much pointless information that I found myself bored, struggling to carry on reading and annoyed.

Don't get me wrong, the story was fantastically researched and was interesting, as well as intriguing. But I found the pace
Lisa Senauke
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Historic detail, horrific acts of violence, intriguing romance, and so well written! What more could you want?
Jul 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Savage Girl tells the story of Hugo Delegate who, blinded with the love for the titular character, confesses to a series of murders he may or may not have committed. The novel is told in flashback as Hugo relates the story of the savage girl to his lawyers whilst in prison awaiting trial for murders he may or may not have committed. The Delegates are old money, the aristocrats of New York, envied for their wealth and lineage. Freddy and Anna-Marie, Hugo’s parents, have the wealthy penchant of ta ...more
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Sometimes when I see a review and the person starts with, "I received this book in exchange for an unbiased review and," then the reviewer froths at the mouth at how wonderful it was, I have to giggle. It doesn't sound so unbiased anymore. At any rate, I did receive this book through First Reads, and I really, truly did enjoy it. The historical context is fascinating, I never knew a thing about private trains before this, just to give an example. This period of time is also very interesting over ...more
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was surprised to find myself loving this book from the start, since the author's previous book had been so jolty. The writing has improved amazingly! This book still has a few issues - the central character is distant and unknown throughout, not merely enigmatic; the narrator's chemistry with her never comes to life; and the end of the plot is slapped on out of nowhere, rather unsatisfyingly. Yet I loved this book! I found it captivating, with notes of the Gatsby myth and a Helprin-like deific ...more
Laura Lee
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Picked up because I was drawn to the cover. 1875 Virgina City. A very rich family from the east "adopts" a wild girl, supposedly raised by Indians. Can they convert her to a successful debutante? Great mystery and exciting events. Great writing.
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am beyond impressed with this book. When historical fiction is good, it is perhaps my favorite genre; when it is bad I will not even waste time reading it. The same goes for so-called mysteries which sadly, seem mostly pumped out of Thomas Kinkade schools of writing now. Give me a literate (I pride myself on my vocabulary & I had to look up several words I wasn't certain of--knew what they meant in context of the book but wanted more precise definitions for my own benefit) historically ste ...more
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
In the 1870's, the wealthy were godlike in their ability to do as they chose. This was the time of the Robber Barons, men like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt amassing legendary fortunes from natural resources. To those names, add the Delegates, rich beyond belief from their silver mine holdings. Fredrick Delegate, or Freddy as he preferred to be known, was the family patriarch. He had two sons, Hugo and Nicky.

When one is so wealthy, it is easy to become bored. Wealthy men often seek out the bizarr
The Lit Bitch
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was gritty and unique. I really really enjoyed it. It was suspenseful and thrilling just a promised. One issue I did have with the novel though was the time frame.

The story took place over the course of a year. I had a hard time reconciling that Bronwyn went from wild child to refined lady in a year. I would have liked to have seen the timeline stretch a little longer so it could be believable.

I loved that Hugo was an unreliable narrator. I love books like that as they always set me o
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I enjoyed this work of historical fiction that starts in Silver City, Nevada and continues in Gilded Age New York City. The narrator is Hugo Delegate, the eldest son of a wealthy New York family and an extremely unreliable witness. He is a Harvard anatomy student with an obsession with knives, a fondness for blood red and a history of mental instability. On a business trip to Nevada, the eccentric Delegate family encounters a girl purportedly raised by wolves and brings her back to New York to i ...more
Claire McAlpine
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Set in 1875, Savage Girl begins when the wealthy socialite Delegate family are on a tour of the American West, having travelled to Nevada by private train to visit family mining concerns.

The son, Hugo, a 22-year-old anatomy student at Harvard, who keeps taking time out from his studies due to undiagnosed mental health issues, visits a back alley sideshow attraction with his mother entitled ‘Savage Girl’, allegedly a wild, mute 18-year-old girl raised by wolves. It is a popular attraction, attrac
Feb 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: no-longer-own
I was so excited to read this book. From the description it should have been the type of book I love and savor and can not wait to get back to everyday. However, that just didn't happen. It's not that the writing or story was inherently bad it's simply that I didn't personally care for either too much. The author used such antiquated words and long run on and on and on and on , oh and on some more sentences that reading became a chore rather than a pleasant pastime. Also the story dragged in so ...more
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Savage Girl was a wonderful read. Each character is rich with idiosyncrasies, loveable and rich. Even the deviously evil and flawed characters have layers to their personalities causing the reader to turn them, over-and-over again in their mind detecting different hidden depths. Much like eating a delicious dish, which you allow to slowing melt on your tongue trying to decipher if indeed there is a hint of cinnamon. Savagery, love, cross-dressing, exotic, native, murderess, madness and the eccen ...more
Clearview Library District
SO much going on here. A feral girl on parade to the public who gets rescued by a rich, eccentric family (who is exploiting who?) one of who is the narrator. He is neurotic and a tad whiny(around the age of the girl) who is introduced to his "new sister" and the fun begins. Grisly murders that involve castrating are strewn through out the book. I quickly eliminated the first two obvious suspect choices early on and then made myself plow through the rest of this overly long fantasy. Everything ge ...more
Carole Knoles
Jan 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Having received an advance copy of "Savage Girl" from Viking, it saddens me not to be able to give the book a wholehearted endorsement. The author is obviously a skilled researcher and a talented wordsmith with a formidable vocabulary [why say field mouse when you can say field vole] but I don't think that these gifts always work to her advantage. I love detail filling out a story but not when it so severely interrupts the narrative. I found myself often irritated by frequent asides and minutiae ...more
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Hugo Delegate is the son of a wealthy, Gilded Age industrialist. He's an anatomy student at Harvard - gifted at dissection and anatomical drawings - but prone to bouts of "melancholia". On a trip out West, his parents adopt (buy) a "feral" child, a girl reputedly raised by wolves. They decide to turn Bronwyn into a proper debutante. Their experiment seems to be a rousing success - except that some men who venture too close to Bronwyn end up dead - horribly mutilated. Is Bronwyn's beauty and comp ...more
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Perhaps the main character of this period mystery for me is Gilded Age New York City, its streets, its buildings and architecture, its people, its fashions, its culture, its food, its economy. The author's descriptive abilities so good that she has you feeling that you are time traveling to right there.

The main story covers a period from June 1875 to June 1876. It begins in May of 1876, when our unreliable narrator, 22-year-old Hugo Delegate, who relates the tale to us in 1st person POV, is arre

Following her successful The Orphanmaster, Jean Zimmerman returns with a marvelously detailed - and at times, downright gruesome! - tale of the Gilded Age, high society, and a feral child.

In 1875, the Delgate family, among the upper crust of Manhattan society, takes a tour of the American West. While in Nevada, they stop for a local sideshow attraction, Savage Girl. It's said the girl was raised by wolves and is presented on stage for the curious audience
Joanna Dean
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really loved this book, and I wish I was still reading about these characters. It's set in the mid-1850's and takes place mostly in New York, along with a bit of Colorado and Massachusetts, and it includes some real people and events.
It's told by the son of an extremely wealthy family in his mid-twenties, and the story is about his family and the 'feral girl' they take in and groom, along with other interesting family members, along with some grisly murders, and trying to find out who committe
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
Way too long for what it was. I was expecting a pulpy, kind of trashy historical fiction murder mystery about a family that takes a sideshow freak and tries to make her into a different kind of sideshow. What I got was a very well-researched, far too detailed pulpy and kind of trashy historical fiction book that wanted to be a murder mystery but couldn't sustain its own suspense. The time between the first murder and the second was way too long, and nothing of note happened in between apart from ...more
DID NOT FINISH. This one looked so promising, a feral girl "rescued" by a family in the late 19th century, with a murder mystery thrown in. I followed the 50 page rule (if you don't like it by 50 pages, don't bother) - and actually made it to 60-something, then gave up. It wasn't bad... but it used a time-jumping plot device that kept yanking one out of the story. It starts in the "present," then back-ups months, begins to get interesting at the end of a chapter then jumps forward a day with the ...more
May 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Really wanted to like this more. I thought the premise, a young woman being kept as a sideshow freak, being heralded as raised by wolves in 1860's and then adopted and taken back east as a Pygmallion type experiment interesting. But it kept failing in story and characters. it was an ambitious idea that handled more deftly would have been a great summer read recommendation.
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this book really surprised me. It was not at all what I expected, in the best of ways. First off, the description of it doesn't do it justice, though it is technically correct. It really is about so much more than some weird girl raised by wolves, and is much more about the male main character, Hugo. The streets of golden age New York City glitter under the auspices of this author and I cannot understand the low rating for this book at all. It is one of the best books I have read in years. ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Throughout her writing career Jean Zimmerman has published both nonfiction and fictional works that center around the changing role of women in America.

In Tailspin (Doubleday, 1995) she wrote about intrepid Navy fighter pilot Kara Hultgreen. Ballsy soccer players were the subject of Raising Our Athletic Daughters (Doubleday, 1998, with Gil Reavill). She covered heroic female homemakers in Made Fro
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“Guns are like thermometers, only instead of measuring body temperatures they measure our fear.” 3 likes
“The lies one tells always pale in comparison to the truths one withholds.” 2 likes
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