I am creating an ever growing list of books that have feisty women as their protagonists and they are set in the great and wild outdoors, not to mention far away and remote places that I would love to visit. I can’t get enough of these books and as I read through loads and loads of books, these are the ones that stand out for me.
All these books could have similar reviews: This is the story of a girl, who are grew up insert a great and wild place, depending on the land for her survival and suffering at the hands of the people who should love her the most. And she survives, not only survives, but against all odds, she rises above and she triumphs. The only thing that changes from book to book is the setting… so if you like the great outdoors and survival then these are really the books for you.
My List so Far
I thought I would start a list, because folk keep asking me about books set in the wild… and as I think of books I have loved I am just going to keep on adding to the list.
About a girl who raises herself in the wetlands on the coast of North Carolina, against all odds. She suffers at the hands of the local town, who blame her for all the problems that happen in town. And she survives… she lives off the land, and she keeps on surviving. The most harrowing and beautiful book.
This is the story of a a young girl, whose father comes back from the Vietnam war suffering from PTSD, he uproots the family and takes them to live in the vast open spaces of Alaska, she learns to survive against all odds. You can read my review at this link here.
Miss Benson’s Beetle
Oh my word, I wish everyone I knew had read this book… I didn’t just love it, I LOVED it. It is the story of a girl, called Margery Benson, who grew up during the Great War. The book opens with all four of her brothers gone to war, and she is in the study with her father examining a book of weird and wonderful animals, where she sees a golden beetle and decides that she will find that beetle one day. The scene holds so much promise, the expectation is so optimistic and her father answers a knock on the door and discovers that his four sons have died, killed in action. In the opening pages, we are bereft and her life becomes a long dreary march through a long dreary life, doing what is expected… and in the gloom of the era, she leads a hopeless and miserable life.
Forty years after the book begins, she is a really lack lustre teacher in a dreary classroom and her students like her as much as she likes them (not very much). And one day she decides she has had enough and she is going to revisit her dream of finding the golden beetle. This is all in Chapter One… and she is off on the most feisty and adventurous adventure of all time. She travels the world and the seven seas. She decides she needs an assistant and she chooses this apparently ditzy girl, Enid Pretty over an experienced, but ptsd sufferer and war veteran. Miss Benson appears to be totally oblivious to all undercurrents, and her ability to “read the room” as she strides forth with all her Victorian upbringing intact. She does not realise that there is a war veteran one or two steps behind them on their journey, but the reader knows. She also don’t realise that Enid’s surname might be Pretty, but this girl has some baggage and I don’t mean bags of hand luggage either.
Together, Miss Benson and Enid Pretty, muddle along. For all their equipment, they are dramatically ill prepared, as they set out on a transcontinental adventure from a musty England to a hot and oppressive Australia. What an exciting adventure, there is high drama all the way and it is wonderful, all of it… gloriously happy, terribly sad, you will encounter plenty of despair and even more triumph. If I could say one thing about this book: I really wish I could go back and read it for the first time again. Miss Benson’s Beetle has to be my book of the year.
The Last Migration
This book must have been written by someone who is passionate about the ocean, the environment and all living things… It is a harrowing tale, set mostly in the open ocean and the most perfect read for the night before a Robben Island Crossing.
I read this incredible book, about a girl called Franny, living in a time where animals have all but died out. She is obsessed with the ocean and swims to escape all sorts of trials. The theme is about her following the Arctic terns on their annual migration across the ocean. Spanning the world from a crisp cold Greenland, the west coast of Ireland and Australia, and back again. She convinces some fisherman to take her on their ship… because if they follow the terns they will find fish, possibly the last fish.
The book appears to be a wild adventure following the terns, but actually… it is a love story between Franny and her husband Niall Lynch, she can’t be caged and has to be free, and he can’t be free, but must remain in one spot to complete his research. They are their own ying and yang, their relationship is obviously conflicting, but also explosive. He is an academic, an ornithologist in a dying world and she is a free spirit, who for several reasons as the book goes on, cannot settle. This book is an emotional roller coaster, you and will linger far longer than necessary… because you have to know what it is that make this girl so disturbed. Her story and their love story are woven between the waves of the ocean expedition. This is a profound, deeply emotional read. I had to know more about Franny, I had to know if she would be okay. A harrowing tragedy… this book will change you. I loved it and put the whole house on hold, while I read it through, from start to finish without pause.
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These books were given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa. (I have bought the audible books myself). This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.