WILD LIFE by Molly Gloss

It is the early 1900s and Charlotte Bridger Drummond is a thoroughly modern woman. The sole provider for her five young boys, Charlotte is a fiercely independent, freethinking woman of the West who fully embraces the scientific spirit that is sweeping the nation at the dawn of the industrial age. Thumbing her nose at convention, she dresses in men’s clothes, avoids housework whenever possible, and proudly supports her family by writing popular women’s adventure stories. Ready to show off her knowledge of the local flora and fauna and have an adventure of her own, Charlotte joins a search party for a child who has disappeared in the deepwood wilderness on the border between Oregon and Washington. But when she gets lost herself, she is thrust into a mysterious world that not only tests her courage but challenges her entire concept of reality.

Starving and half dead from exposure, Charlotte is rescued by a band of elusive, quasi-human beasts. As she becomes a part of the creatures’ extended family, Charlotte is forced to reconsider her previous notions about the differences between animals and humans, men and women, and above all, between wilderness and civilization.

Yeah, I lifted that plot description directly from Goodreads, because I am behind in writing up my thoughts on what I am reading, and I am also lazier than the guy who drew the Japanese flag. So, in keeping with my motto not to put off til tomorrow what you can put off til the day after tomorrow, I kind of got backed up in my posts.

So.  This book.  It was great until about 2/3 through it, telling the story of of Charlotte, who is definitely a chick you would want to know.  It also has a lot about the logging industry back in the turn of the other century, and gives the reader a real taste of what life must have been like out in the far west as the country was beginning to grow up.  Had the flavor of Angle of Repose  which was based on the life of Mary Hallock Foote.   

And then it got weird.  The granddaughter of her housekeeper is taken by her father up into the logging camps to see what it was like.  She goes missing, and a massive search is on for her.  Charlotte gets it in her head to go up into the mountains around the camps and join the search, she gets lost, and hallucinates and is taken in by some wild creatures.  It went on and on and on, and not being in an introspective mood, but in a mood for the STORY, I lost interest and skimmed and skipped until she is finally rescued and the thread about the missing girl comes to a conclusion.

I still, even thinking back on the work,  cannot figure out what was the point of (a) a pragmatic women who is the widowed mother of 5 boys choosing to go off on the hunt, and (b) the getting lost part, and (c) what WAS that about the half human creatures?   Did we slip ever so slightly into fantasy there?  Anyway, it ruined the book for me, so if you read it, feel free to skip over that part, because the rest is great.


































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