What Wild Women Do by Karma Brown
Published by Dutton
Publication date: October 24, 2023
Genres: Book Clubs, Fiction, Mystery
When Rowan and her fiancé Seth stall out in their dreams of being a screenwriter (her) and a novelist (him) they decide to take a break from the dreary reality of moving back home to Michigan and rent a rustic cabin in the Adirondacks for a month. This simple decision, made to save money, leads to the discoveries that lie at the heart of What Wild Women Do by Karma Brown.
The two were living in L.A. when the pandemic hit. Rowan used the time to finish a script, but Seth dealt with his writer’s block by making Youtube videos of his creative ideas for daily life during lockdown. The channel became profitable, but after a while ideas for content were harder to come by. Rowan hoped her script got picked up, but when a month passes with no word, they leave L.A.
Before the reality of moving back home hits, Rowan hopes time away from all distractions in an area with limited internet access will revitalize both of their creativity. As they investigate their new surroundings they come across an abandoned group of cabins around the nearby lake. A local tells them they were once a family-camp turned retreat owned by a wealthy socialite.
This information is Eddie Callaway’s introduction in What Wild Women Do. A free spirit, she inherited the family’s property and in 1971 moved there full-time. Soon after, she started free summer retreats for women with yoga, hiking, and meditation. For the most part she was welcomed or ignored by the locals, but when she became more vocal about women’s empowerment one of her patriarchal neighbors became threatening. Just prior to the last night of a summer session in 1975 Eddie disappeared. There were no signs of violence and her remains were never found.
From this point, What Wild Women Do splits into two timelines, the present day and 1975. Rowan becomes captivated by Camp Calloway, Eddie’s life, and mystery surrounding her disappearance. The discovery of a camp handbook written by Eddie sparks her creativity and provides greater glimpses into Eddie’s life, right up until the day she vanishes. At the same time, Seth wants to turn everything regarding the camp into content for his channel, but Rowan is now reluctant, finding herself more interested in living her life than documenting it.
The novel continues in this vein—two women living almost 50 years apart, but both in the midst of creating their authentic lives. Brown is careful in how she folds in the mystery, expanding it enough to maintain tension, but not letting it overtake what is the more personal story. It all comes together in a way that makes What Wild Women Do a meat and potatoes novel—straightforward, filling, and familiar. A welcome escape from dreary winter weather.
Want more light, female-centric reading? Try Nora Goes Off Script– I loved it!
This post contains affiliate links to Bookshop.org and Amazon.com which means if you click on a link and make a purchase of any kind, I get a small commission (at no cost to you).