Swim Home: Searching for the Wild Girl of Champagne

Kathleen McDonnell. Friesen, $13.99 trade paper (174p) ISBN 978-1-5255-6848-0
Playwright McDonnell (Emily Included) mixes memoir with research as she digs into stories about a famous “feral child” found in 1731 Champagne, France. While writing a play about the girl, whose name was Marie-Angélique, McDonnell discovers that little reliable information about her exists. The general consensus is she was an Indigenous girl, possibly from northern Ontario, whose mother gave her to the French to save her from starvation. (McDonnell also learns that the young girl may have come from the Meskwaki people, in the same part of eastern Iowa as her own relatives.) Once in France, Marie-Angélique was sent to work in a silk factory, from which she ran away and proceeded to live in the woods for perhaps as long as 10 years, eating small animals and sleeping in trees. The author’s play is excerpted at the end, and portrays an older Marie-Angélique jumping into the Seine and swimming home. While much of the subject’s identity remains a mystery, McDonnell’s storytelling is vivid. This is a curious page–turner. (Self-published)
Reviewed on : 01/27/2021
Release date: 05/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 174 pages - 978-1-5255-6847-3
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