Winner, City of Victoria Butler Book Prize
Shortlisted, Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
A feral girl roams the dense forests of nineteenth-century France, stealing food from remote farmyards and avoiding human contact. Seen on one of her thieving missions in the village of Freyzus, she is chased by suspicious townspeople to the edge of a deep gorge, where she jumps and disappears, vanishing into village legend.
On the other side of the gorge, in an abandoned estate, Peyre Rouff lives out his self-imposed exile. Following a horrific hunting accident, he now focuses all of his attention on intricate taxidermic dioramas, keeping his thoughts from wandering too close to the day he lost everything.
When Peyre encounters the wild girl, they find a link in their mutual estrangement from conventional society. He provides her with her material needs, while she brings light to places Peyre had thought dark forever. The two achieve an easy coexistence. But the careful patterns of the life Peyre has made for himself begin to unravel, and when the wider world learns of the girl's presence at the estate, Peyre is forced to confront not only his choices and their consequences, but society itself.
In The Hunter and the Wild Girl, award-winning author Pauline Holdstock spins a haunting tale affirming the persistence of life, the power of human connection, and the fundamental urge to be free.
About the author
Born in England, Pauline Holdstock came to Canada in 1974. Her first novel, The Blackbird's Song, was a finalist in the WH Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award in 1987. Her 2004 novel Beyond Measure was nominated for the Giller Prize. Her writing has appeared in Exile, Event, Grain, NeWest Review, Malahat Review, Flare and Antigonish Review among others. She lives in Sidney on Vancouver Island.
- Short-listed, Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
- Winner, City of Victoria Butler Book Prize
- Short-listed, Ethel Wilson fiction Prize
"The Hunter and the Wild Girl is powerful, almost elemental storytelling, an achievement not only of craft but of raw emotion. It pulses with vitality, building to a stunning, shattering conclusion."
"Holdstock's 19th-century story of connection between this odd pairing of psychological isolates hints at great depth beneath the surface. Resonant and troubling, like all good fairy tales."
<i>Globe and Mail</i>
"This book is magical. It's a fairy tale, it's magic realism, it's a beautiful story about grief and freedom. The Hunter and the Wild Girl can be read in so many ways."
<i>The Winnipeg Review</i>
"A thorough examination of what, exactly, it means to be a person — a question more daunting than any human antagonist, and one Holdstock raises gradually, with great skill and a light tough."
<i>The National Post</i>
"What a gorgeous, heart-breaking story! The Hunter and the Wild Girl is both courageous and risky, and it works so beautifully — there are breathtaking moments of grace — simple observations that turn suddenly and quietly exquisite. It takes Holdstock a few lines to draw readers in with her wild girl and just a few pages to make them love her."
"The Hunter and the Wild Girl unfolds like a dark and wonderful fairy tale. A remarkable, engrossing story with not a word out of place."
"Possibly the most arresting aspect of the novel, apart from the exquisite sense of place, is Holdstock's implied invitation to consider the essence of a human being."
<i>Quill & Quire</i>
"Pauline Holdstock's language is so powerful, her writing so wrought with emotion and beauty, that you become fully lost in her world."
<i>The Winnipeg Review</i>
"A turbulent, headlong, exhilarating rush will sweep you into this fairy tale of a lost girl breaching the self-exile of a haunted man — a hunter who cannot hunt, who is both ogre and hero. In exquisitely beautiful prose, with echoes from both Charles Perrault and Gormenghast, Holdstock spins austere enchantment."