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Wild Life

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  813 ratings  ·  163 reviews
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 housewo ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 17th 2001 by Mariner Books (first published June 2000)
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3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  813 ratings  ·  163 reviews

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Sep 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all and sundry
Probably my favorite book of the last couple years, Wild Life simultaneously explores pioneer life, the conflicting draws of creativity and family, the history of trashy fantasy novels, the nature of evil, and a magical and enduring Pacific Northwest legend. All wrapped into a whalloping adventure with an engaging and fast-paced plot. Spectacle with depth. LOVED it.
Jul 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: otherworlds
It's all about the prose, not the plot, with Molly Gloss, so if you're in the market for gorgeous sentences about the small towns and forests of the Pacific Northwest, definitely pick this book up.

This is not to say that things don't happen in the novel; the feisty yet pragmatic late-nineteenth-century pulp-novel-writing feminist protagonist leaves her brood of children and goes back to nature - way, WAY back - in the company of some creatures that I imagined as a cross between a Sasquatch and a
Jun 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I walked around inside this book for days. It's written as the diary of a woman - pioneer feminist raised on the Columbia River in Washington, mother of 5, novel-writer, adventurer, tough-minded poet-tongued - set in 1902 when the Douglas fir were as big around at the base as our houses are now. You may not like historical novels or diary forms or stuff about the Pacific Northwest - never mind what you don't like. You'll be amazed at this book. I liked Jump-Off Creek, also by Gloss, but I loved ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea what to expect with this novel, but what I got was an excellently-written diary of a fictional and mostly unsentimental radical feminist mother/pulp novelist in the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest who joined a search party for a lost girl which all went wrong. Charlotte was a great character with acknowledged flaws (with even bigger flaws visible to the modern reader), and my book club had a great time discussing it even though half of us loved it, and the other half hated it.
Sandra Helen
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stopped-reading
If you are:
• a woman
• a writer
• a reader
• a thinker
• an adventurer
• a believer in Big Foot
• a lover of fiction
• especially a lover of literary fiction
• or historical fiction
• or magical realism
Molly Gloss's Wild Life is the book you've waited for your entire life.
Although I was alive, well, reading and on the Internet, I somehow missed the fact that Wild Life was published in 2000. I was already a fan of Gloss, having read The Jump Off Creek. I lived in the Pacific Northwest where most of her wr
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is an excellent work of literary historical fiction, set in Washington State in 1905. It is an epistolary novel, comprised primarily of the diary entries of one Charlotte Bridger Drummond, a fictional novelist inspired by real female writers of the period. Also included in its pages are some of Charlotte’s short stories and essays, as well as letters and newspaper clippings. It is all excellently-written, in a strong voice that reads authentically for the period.

When we first meet Charlotte
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Really enjoyed this. Gloss writes beautifully, and the Pacific Northwest setting and turn of the century period are very convincing, though occasionally it does feel as if she might have added in the historical detail with a lighter hand. Charlotte Bridger Drummond is a wonderfully memorable character – overconfident, arrogant, opinionated, and yet still, somehow, sympathetic – and Gloss's creative way of presenting her story, combining journal entries, literary quotations, and selections from C ...more
I want to re-read this story; it's been living in my visual memory ever since I first read it. An independent woman in the early 19th century Pacific Northwestern U.S. befriends a bigfoot, magical historical fantasy!
So, I recently asked my library to consider buying it and just like magic, a re-issue edition is now on order at my library!
Kara Clevinger
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In her novel Wild Life, Molly Gloss manages to combine great storytelling with a strong message about wildlife conservation. Using the frame tale device, diary entries, character sketches, and short story excerpts, Gloss experiments with narrative form to present us with the formidable feminist and adventure authoress Charlotte Bridger Drummond, who, while in search of her housekeeper’s granddaughter Harriet in the Washington wilderness, becomes part of a Sasquatch family, truly living the wild ...more
Wild Life is a historical fantasy, but one of those fantasy books with the right class of beautiful prose, thoughtful characterization, ambitious philosophical context, and disinterest in traditional genre storytelling that it gets classed as "literary fiction" instead. So while it is exactly the thing I'm always looking for, I feel lucky to have even come across it. In some respects, Wild Life is very similar to Birdbrain, which I found in the same list. The main plot is largely a descent from ...more
Apr 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
This is the title that the King County library system has chosen as their official selection for the popular "If All Of Seattle Read the Same Book" program. I think that two of the main reasons they selected this book are that Washington is celebrating its 150th year of being a state, and Molly Gloss lives in nearby Portland.
This is a scattered and laborious tale of man-hating Charlotte who is raising 5 boys in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the (last) century. Charlotte is a pulp writer o
May 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a treasure. It stands alone as a wild romp, but it also offers a wink-wink-nudge-nudge, poking fun at tropes. Many historical novels get the details right, but the tone and style of the writing is clunky or feels anachronistic; this one is perfect. The writing is gorgeous.

This is what a frontier book should be, beautifully and touchingly exploring how and where civilization bumps up against wilderness, asking questions about the difference between animal and human, wild and tamed,
Sasha Doyel
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Storyline failed: There is no way a woman would forget about her children in such a little amount of time... years maybe.... within weeks.... never.... unless she was a horrible mother and she didn't sound like that. I love Molly Gloss' Hearts of Horses but the storyline in this book left a lot to be desired.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow. This was an amazing book. Part feminist writer's manifesto, part love song to the Pacific Northwest, part indictment of (white) Homo sapiens and his effect on the planet.
Jul 31, 2007 rated it it was ok
I liked this book at first, but then I lost interest about halfway through and ended up just scanning the rest of it.
Susan Beecher
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this somewhat unusual story of an unconventional widowed woman in coastal Washington state in the early 1900s who supports her family of 5 sons by writing popular novels. I don't want to spoil the plot but let's just say that she has an amazing adventure in the wilds.
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
this is one of my top ten favorite books i own, and that's saying alot, as i have an obscene amount of books. i bought this at the gift shop in nepenthe (in big sur) on my way out to a 5-day solo backpacking trip in the ventana wilderness. that, and the fact that i have taken training in search and rescue, tracking, and wilderness survival made this book the perfect choice to take along on my own little adventure.

the setting is 1905, in the pacific northwest. the protagonist is charlotte, a wido
Kate Davis
There is so much truth here; it would be worth reading for the feminist stances on marriage and work alone, and the strong, embodied, snarky tone in which it's delivered just makes it more resonant. I liked the protagonist immediately. And, as the plot progresses, we are able to see that men have more complexity than she believes, and that women may be performing for her as much as she is for them. That is to say: we see that she's as bound by the patriarchal rules that she pushes against as any ...more
at least through the first half of this book, the main character struck me as refreshingly original, but it took me a while to put my finger on why. i don't come across a lot of adult female protagonists that are allowed to be so realistically, fallibly ornery. i liked that her independence, confidence, severity, and stoicism were shown in both good and bad lights, and i liked that we got occasional glimpses of her awareness of her own shortcomings, without turning into a maudlin pile of self-re ...more
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I adore Molly Gloss's writing! I am particular about fiction writing - it has to get me early on or I move on.

Wild Life is historical fiction with a bit of fantasy (or not?), early feminist perspective with the internal struggles for mothers and creativity and a beautifully written natural history of the PNW.

Gloss's writing is gorgeous and the character's personality is developed and shines through the sentences.

If you are familiar with the PNW, specifically SW WA and the lower Columbia River, y
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
A book for tomboys and pioneers, for feminists and anyone who wants a historical peek of the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the 20th century. Ms Gloss fills her book with hardworking people living in the sloughs and riverbanks along the coast and in logging towns, with adventurer's and lumbermen, with women laboring to make homes and find meaning in their daily struggles of building a life out west, and, oh yes, even Sashquatch.

Slow paced but intriguing,wonderous descriptions of the wildern
Aliki Ekaterini  Chapple
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is one of the loveliest books I've ever read, but if you're expecting sword-and-sorcery, or any of the typical fantasy themes, you'll be disappointed. This could almost be a historical novel, a rich, almost tactile, 19th Century travelogue of the Pacific Northwest's extensive wilderness. The fantastical part of this book is anything but escapist; it broke my heart. At the same time, it's lingered in my memory in a way few books have.
May 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite novels has been reissued with a nifty new cover. Wild Life takes place in the Pacific Northwest during the early 1900's, and features Charlotte Bridger Drummond, a fearless and tough-as-nails, independent woman. When a little girl goes missing, Charlotte decides to join the search. Molly Gloss has written a beautiful tale with mythical elements, but that is firmly grounded in the reality of the logging camps and wild woods of the northwest frontier. Unforgettable.
Lori Brack
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life. The writing is exquisite, the story is full and important, the shape of the narrative is a revelation. I keep pressing it on other people, buy every copy I find at used book stores. For me, the melding of landscape, character, and possibility (it's hard to call this fantasy, I think) made me understand the potentials of fiction, and the poetic organization scheme pleases the part of me that wants art always, even when I also want a good story.
Jul 07, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
NEVER engaged me. I plodded through 70 pages and finally determined that this was never going to be the book for me. I didn't care for the form, I didn't care for the stories, none of the characters were of interest. I have liked other Molly Gloss books, but NOT this one. All of Seattle must have already been smoking MJ when they made this their city book.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Perfectly paced. Language to salivate over. Heartbreaking. An inspiration to every writer.
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
There was evidence of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jack London, and John Steinbeck. There was no evidence of an editor.
May 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
I like this author, I love the setting, I really loved the main character...but why did she have to go all big foot on us?
Mar 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Although I have been enjoying Molly Gloss's command of language and description, I have to admit with being bored with the inserts from her characters fictional heroine.
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Molly Gloss is a fourth-generation Oregonian who lives in Portland.

Her novel The Jump-Off Creek was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for American Fiction, and a winner of both the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and the Oregon Book Award. In 1996 Molly was a recipient of a Whiting Writers Award.

The Dazzle of Day was named a New York Times Notable Book and was awarded the PEN Center
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“I woke thinking: Is it possible that, after all, I am to go on living with the wild beasts while in the greater world others are out the peaks of the Himalayas, the dark heart of Arabia, and the secrets of the Poles--while in the civilized world electricity is spread to every corner, and the flying machine is invented--while in the laboratories and academies and astronomical observatories, by telescope and spectroscope and microscope, others are to discover the minute secrets of Life and the Universe--all this while I am living ignorant as a savage in the wilderness?” 2 likes
“I rate highly any woman who will freely swear and say the word "stink," but on this occasion I would rather have had a woman with an appreciation for ancient relics and mysterious rooms hidden in the deeps of forbidding caves.” 1 likes
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