Winner, City of Victoria Butler Book Prize
Shortlisted, Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
A National Post Best Book of 2015
"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." — Robert Weirsema, Vancouver Sun
"A rich, immersive experience. Pauline Holdstock’s is the kind of prose you get lost in.” — National Post
The story begins with the crack of splintered boards and bones as a feral girl crashes out of the hut where she’s been held against her will and into the scrubland of southern France. Townsfolk chase her to the edge of a deep gorge. She leaps and vanishes into legend — and into the territory of Peyre Rouff, a once-renowned hunter who spends his days fending off his own demons in an abandoned château.
Pauline Holdstock sets this absorbing novel in the blurry territory between myth and reality. The girl and the hunter inhabit radically different worlds. The wild girl’s is rooted in the physical, a source of food and danger, Rouff’s in the cerebral, an existence patterned to prevent him from the destruction of despair.
When their two worlds unexpectedly collide, this odd pair of outsiders forms an unlikely bond. The girl’s untamed spirit and volatility shakes the hunter from his solitude. The hunter’s unexpected kindness provides the girl with a sense of connection. But when the wider world learns of the girl's presence, Rouff is forced to confront both his choices and their consequences.
Wild and unpredictable, lush and sensually evocative, The Hunter and the Wild Girl courses with mythical life blood, resonant, disquieting, and fathoms deep.
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.
"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>The Globe and Mail</i>
"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>
"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."
"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>
"Pauline Holdstock's language is so powerful, her writing so wrought with emotion and beauty, that you become fully lost in her world."
"The novel is beautiful, poignant and mysterious. There is a fairy-tale aspect to the story, though without moral or resolution...The Hunter and the Wild Girl is a stunning reminder that grief is something to be lived, an important creative force with the power to bring us together."
"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."
"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."
"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."
<i>The Vancouver Sun</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."