Molly Gloss , Simon & Schuster 2000
Charlotte Bridger Drummond, the heroine of this novel, is a free-thinking feminist who makes her living as a Jules-Vernesque fantasy writer. She lives both physically and symbolically on the fringes of society, in Western Oregon at the turn of the 20th century.
She rides a bicycle, smokes cigars, and dresses in mens clothes because they are comfortable. She is a staunch advocate for womens rights, with a sense of strength and humor that informs everything in her daily life and how she chooses to raise her five sons.
When she embarks on an adventure into the wilderness, a mission of mercy, she encounters danger at every turn. After a sexual assault by a logger, she becomes lost in the mountains in a terrifying storm, and is eventually rescued by a family of the legendary Sasquatch. She returns home with her outlook about everything profoundly altered by her encounters with the creatures, whose social roles begin to seem much more civilized than those of the logging camp or even her hometown.
Gloss is a brilliant stylist. In this novel she encompasses exquisitely researched historical fiction, a compelling mystery story, a wilderness adventure, and a fantastic journey with a tribe of mythic creatures. She manages to pull off that risky literary feat with such skill that by the end the novel becomes a meditative musing on wildness and human nature, told by one of the most memorable heroines in recent memory.