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The Wild Girl: The Notebooks of Ned Giles, 1932
Synopses & Reviews
From the award-winning author of One Thousand White Women, a novel in the tradition of Little Big Man, tracing one man's search for adventure and the wild Apache girl who invites him into her world.
When Ned Giles is orphaned as a teenager, he heads West hoping to leave his troubles behind. He joins the 1932 Great Apache Expedition on their search for a young boy, the son of a wealthy Mexican landowner, who was kidnapped by wild Apaches. But the expedition's goal is complicated when they encounter a wild Apache girl in a Mexican jail cell, victim of a Mexican massacre of her tribe that has left her orphaned and unwilling to eat or speak. As he and the expedition make their way through the rugged Sierra Madre mountains, Ned's growing feelings for the troubled girl soon force him to choose allegiances and make a decision that will haunt him forever.
In this novel based on historical fact, Jim Fergus takes readers on a journey of magnificent sweep and heartbreaking consequence peopled with unforgettable characters. With prose so vivid that the road dust practically rises off the page, The Wild Girl is an epic novel filled with drama, peril, and romance, told by a master.
"Depicting the dusty Depression-era West this grandly, cinematically imagined sweat- and bloodstained saga, inspired by events that took place in Arizona and south of the border in the Sierra Madre badlands, dramatizes latter-day conflicts between whites and Native Americans. During the fall of 1999, an obscure, financially struggling photographer, Ned Giles — now in his early 80s — sells, for $30,000, La Niña Bronca, his only copy of a photo of a young Apache girl lying on the rude floor of a Mexican jail cell; the buyer's curiosity about the picture's provenance sparks Ned's memories. The rest of the book, set in 1932, reveals a legacy of heroism and lost love through Ned's scrupulously detailed diaries, which vividly recount a nightmare of harrowing misadventures beginning the day he signs on to be a part of the Great Apache Expedition, one of dozens of men hoping to free the son of a wealthy Mexican rancher kidnapped by the Apaches. (The wild Apache girl will be used as ransom.) The narrative unfolds as a series of flashbacks, intermingling short passages from the third-person POV of the fierce Apache girl and first-person excerpts from the diaries of the 17-year-old Chicagoan photographer on his first big assignment. Fergus (One Thousand White Women) makes unforgettable characters move against vivid landscapes in this laudable encore. Agent, Al Zuckerman at Writers House. 5-city author tour." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] riveting epic....Fans of both Larry McMurtry and Louis L'Amour will relish this deftly rendered tale of survival, self-discovery, and the precarious boundaries between man and beast." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Fergus...writes simply and sincerely in a brisk tale that offers a compassionate portrait of the beleaguered Native Americans." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Jim Fergus is a freelance journalist whose writing appears in numerous publications. The author of two non-fiction books, his first novel, One Thousand White Women, remains a bestselling epic of the American West. He lives in southern Arizona.
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