Gloss, Molly. Wild Life. I had never herd of Molly Gloss until I received a copy of Wild Life from a dear friend with the highest recommendation. She had read and loved Gloss' previous novels, but considers this one the best.
Within a few pages, I had fallen in love with the voice of Charlotte Bridger Drummond through her diary entries beginning in 1905 - crisp, wry, arrogant, funny. A single mother of five boys who makes her living by writing "women's adventure stories," Charlotte lets us know her commitment to writing, even as she admits to writing "lowbrow" fiction. She lives in an Oregon backwater, but has also had the benefit of having lived with her feminist aunt in New York in her teens. Charlotte is a product of a number of disparate influences.
When the daughter of her housekeeper disappears, Charlotte determines to help in the search. Here is the first of many strange twists that make this novel seem like more than one book. Both content and style begin to change as this serious note is introduced, and Charlotte resolves to head into the wilderness and toward the remote logging camps in search of the little girl.
Gloss addresses many themes in this novel, all set against the huge frontier backdrop of the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900's. She covers social, cultural, anthropological, environmental, and historical topics from the microcosmic point of view; the novel twists and turns and re-makes itself throughout, as Charlotte's experiences twist and turn and she finds herself re-made, altered.
It is a strange, highly original novel. An odd, difficult to categorize novel - historical fiction? speculative fiction? psychological? Charlotte's favorite authors included Jules Verne, Poe, and Mary Shelley...
Molly Gloss takes the reader on an adventure and presents a number of ideas to consider, but leaves the explanations open.
Fiction. 2000. 255 pages.