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review 2015-01-31 03:02
The Orphanmaster: A Novel of Early Manhattan - Jean Zimmerman

3.5 stars rounded up.

 

I almost didn't make it through the first 10-50 pages, more than once. This portion of the book could have used a little more spit and polish. I got the feeling that during editing someone said, the books done, this section is good enough. I'm glad I kept going, but a lot of people might not.

 

Overall I liked the story and attention to historic details.

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url 2014-03-20 01:46
{Review} Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman
Savage Girl - Jean Zimmerman
Source: ficcentral.com/central-picks/book-review/review-savage-girl-by-jean-zimmerman-2
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review 2014-03-19 16:52
Review: Savage Girl
Savage Girl - Jean Zimmerman

My Rating - 3 of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this novel from the Penguin First to Read program in exchange for a fair review.

 

The Delegates are one of the wealthiest (and most eccentric) families in late 1800’s Manhattan. The father, Freddy, and the mother, Anna Marie likes to collect odd things, such as a Chinese emigrant, and a cross-dressing native.

 

The oldest son, Hugo is fresh out of a stay at the sanitarium and the Delegate parents decided to take him on a cross-country train trip. While on this trip they make a stop in a small mining town in Nevada, where Freddy owns a silver mine. This is where they discover Savage Girl.

 

Savage Girl is a show in a barn where a beautiful young girl, supposedly raised by wolves and can’t speak, acts like a beast (complete with specially made razor sharp claws) and then gets naked and takes a bath, much to the pleasure of the men in the audience. She is a town favorite, with a packed full barn at every show.

 

The Delegate family is immediately taken with her. Freddy and Anna Marie have been searching for a “real’ wild child to collect and bring into society; Freddy is desperate to annoy his fellow wealthy friends by proving their nature vs. nurture theory wrong.

 

They take her, hoping to rehabilitate her and have her come out with all of the Manhattan debutantes. They discover her real name, Bronwyn, and try to teach her and convince her to wear shoes and normal clothes.

 

She’s smart, that much they can tell. They have high hopes for her. Though she gives them a hard time at first, she catches on fast and soon she is the most popular debutante in the city. Men flock to her and fawn over her. They only problem is, everywhere she goes a man ends up dead and missing his manly bits.

 

Hugo is torn, it’s clear he is absolutely in love with this girl, though he thinks her capable of murder. Or is it him committing the murders? He isn’t sure. He blacks out and isn’t entirely clear when some things happen. Could he be killing these men out of jealously?

 

Bronwyn sneaks out at night dressed as a man, she dances with gypsies, and can control a wild cat in the zoo to do tricks for her. She seems to be two people, the Savage Girl and Bronwyn the debutante.

 

This book was…okay. The first half was so so slow and then it speeds up very fast for the last few chapters. It was way overwritten. While the descriptions were wonderful, I could picture the women in their corsets and bustles and the horses clomping down the street in Manhattan, at times it’s just too much. It easily could have been a hundred pages shorter and told the same story.

 

The deaths are few and far between, again until the second half of the book where it picks up. Most of the book is a journey inside Hugo’s mind and his thoughts and opinions of Bronwyn, and also the snobby life of the Manhattan elite.

 

I didn’t like most of the Delegate family; Bronwyn was really just a piece of a collection to them. Hugo was very whiny and what a drama queen! Bronwyn, I liked what we are told about her, but you don’t ever really get to know her because it’s from Hugo’s point of view and he constantly mentions how he knows nothing about her.

 

Not a bad book overall, just a tad boring.

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review 2014-03-06 00:33
Savage Girl
Savage Girl - Jean Zimmerman

"...beauty and terror often bump up against each other."

From Manhattan's Gilded Age society Hugo Delegate finds himself confronted with a murder.  Left alone in the room with the body of his dead friend, Hugo surmises that it is possible that he committed the crime and has no recollection, he also knows that it is possible that his family's ward and the girl he loves has committed the murder.  Hugo recounts his entire story of the murders and the Savage Girl as he sits in the Tombs with his lawyers, desperately trying to convince them that it was he who murdered this man - and others- and not his beloved Savage Girl.

While on a trip to Virginia City to visit the family silver mining operation, the Delegate family comes across a side show featuring a feral child.  Anna Maria Delegate, Hugo's mother and Freddy Delegate, Hugo's father each become enamored with the feral girl featured in the show.  They decide that they would like to take this Savage Girl back to New York with them and attempt to 'civilize' her and prepare her for a debut into New York society. Is the person the Delegate's brought home the girl that they want her to be, or is she still a savage girl at heart?

The mystery in this story is very intriguing.  There are a lot of different layers and it unfolds continuously until the very end.  The entire story is told from Hugo's point of view while contained within a prison cell.  So, we only know what he knows about Bronwyn (the Savage Girl) which was really frustrating to me, but kept up the mystery.  I really wanted to know her character and her motivations better.  We find some of this out slowly throughout the story and a little bit in the epilogue.  The setting Manhattan's Gilded Age was beautifully described, we are taken on a beautiful personal train that traveled across the country, into a Manhattan mansion and behind the scenes at a debutante ball. All of this glittering and rich society was well contrasted with the darkness of the brutal murders.


Savage Girl was received for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Source: stephaniesbookreviews.weebly.com
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review 2014-01-30 19:12
Nothing is as it seems
Savage Girl - Jean Zimmerman

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://affairedecoeur.com.

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