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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

What Wild Women Do

Narrators: Karissa Vacker, Hillary Huber Penguin Audio

ISBN: 9780593186350

Publisher: PENGUIN GROUP | Dutton

Publication Date: 10/24/2023

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars ++


"Mysterious, atmospheric and pacey, with heaps of heart and soul. . . . An uplifting celebration of women, and the courage it takes to find one’s true self."—Ashley Audrain, New York Times bestselling author of The Push

A 1970s feminist facing the costs of loss and autonomy strives to create a better future for women at her Adirondacks camp; meanwhile, an aspiring screenwriter of today, makes a shocking discovery that sets her on a course of rewriting her own story.

Rowan is stuck. Her dreams of becoming a screenwriter are stalled, along with her bank account, as she and her fiancé, Seth, try to make sense of what’s next for them after leaving LA. But when the couple takes a trip to a cabin in the Adirondacks, hoping the change will provide inspiration for Seth’s novel-in-progress, Rowan finds herself drawn into a story greater than her own—that of socialite-turned-feminist-crusader Eddie Calloway, who vanished one day in 1975 and was never found or heard from again. In a handbook left behind in the abandoned ruins of a once-great camp, Rowan learns more about the enigmatic Eddie, and clues as to what happened to her.

As Rowan delves deeper into the mystery, we meet Eddie herself, a fierce and loving woman whose greatest wish was to host women at her camp and unlock their “wildness.” However, Eddie’s wild ways aren’t welcomed by everyone, and rifts between camp owners threaten her mission. When Rowan gets closer to the truth of Eddie’s disappearance, she realizes that it may hold the key to unlocking her own ambition and future.

My Review

A long-time fan of bestselling Canadian Author Karma Brown (favorite author), her latest powerhouse masterpiece novel—WHAT WILD WOMEN DO, is STUNNING and Top Books of 2023 list!

Two women's lives unexpectedly collide at a camp in the Adirondacks in this fascinating dual-timeline novel full of ambition, secrets, betrayal, mystery, intrigue, nature, inspiration, and a journey of self-discovery.

The author is at the top of her game with WHAT WILD WOMEN DO! Her best yet!

"If you want to transform, you can't be tentative."

—Eddie Callaway, Wild Women Handbook (1975)

1975: EDDIE CALLAWAY: A 1970s socialite-turned-feminist divorced with son Theo, who died in an auto accident at age 18, took over her family's camp, changed her name, and opened The Wild Women of Camp Callaway in the Adirondacks—A retreat for women to offer them refuge and compassion for their miraculous unfurling.

She uses her wealth to help empower women, allowing them to come free of charge. The enigmatic Eddie believed that your wilderness is a gift that must remain uncaged.

"Who knows what women can be when they are finally free to become themselves?"

—Eddie Calloway from Camp Callaway's Wild Woman Handbook, 1975

She went from socialite housewife to Camp Callaway's Head Goddess. Her staff consisted of her childhood friend, Sam, Florence, Dot, and her special friend, later a poet, Judith (Jules). Many loved her, and she had enemies with other camp owners. I loved them all!

Then, one morning, after encountering one of her enemies, she goes on a morning hike alone, planning a special treat for her guests and keeping it a secret from the staff; she disappears and is never found. The camp was passed on to her beneficiaries (her special friends from the camp), and it was closed.

ROWAN 2021: Rowan dreamed of becoming a Hollywood screenwriter and her fiancé, Seth, a novelist. However, their part-time jobs ended during the pandemic in LA, and they are now left with little money and nothing to show for their efforts. Seth has turned into a Youtuber, has put aside his novel writing, and is obsessed with subscribers and taking videos.

Rowan decides to book a month at a remote cabin in the Adirondacks to get their creative juices flowing. However, things do not go as expected. Seth is not writing and spends his time editing and taking videos. Rowan soon realizes they are not on the same page, and Seth does not have her best interests at heart.

While on a hike alone, she meets Jess and partner Aidan, ornithologists (loved them), and inquires about the abandoned camp nearby. Intrigued, she wants to know more and finds an old handbook from 1975 from Camp Callaway's Wild Woman. She also finds an old Nestle's Quick container with a note. Who was this mysterious woman, Eddie Calloway?

Rowan becomes obsessed with learning more about Eddie and the camp for women. She spends time at Glenda's Diner, asking the owner about her and researching online as much as possible since there is no internet at the cabin.

She also has a white feathered crow that visits her cabin where she leaves peanuts, and in turn, the crow leaves her treasures related to Eddie and the Camp.

In Rowan's search, she uncovers mysteries of the past that connect her to Eddie in more ways than she expected, which will change her life.

Beautifully told from alternating two POVs and two timelines: Rowan 2021 from March-December and Eddie 1975. I was hanging on every word to return to Eddie's story and the mystery surrounding her disappearance— how the two stories would connect.


Words cannot adequately express my feelings about this book. From vivid descriptions and settings, it stirs your senses and emotions from nature, nostalgia, empowerment, inspiring, intriguing, mysterious, organic, enigmatic, and bold. The characterization is superb, and the writing is captivating, lyrical, and, at times, ethereal and enchanting.

I loved all the treasures: An old jewelry box, the treasure box mystery, the Nestles Quick chocolate milk containers, the smiley face pins, the birds, crows, trees, herbs and plants, and the wilderness all enhanced the reading experience. I enjoyed the staff and all the women and their experiences.

I particularly loved Eddie's character and was so happy Rowan finally learned what a jerk Seth was. I adored the cast of supporting characters and hated to see the book end. I am still thinking about it. My fifth book by the author, and this was my favorite! Brown dazzles! As a big nature lover, a HIT!

I loved it so much after reading the e-book that I purchased the hardcover and the audiobook narrated by the fabulous Karissa Vacker and Hillary Huber (two favorites) for a spellbinding performance for Rowan and Eddie! I highly recommend the audiobook!!

I cannot recommend WHAT WILD WOMEN DO enough. Compelling, inspiring, and uplifting. A Must-Read! The ending was perfection.

Many thanks to Dutton Books & NetGalley for the privilege of reading an ARC for an honest opinion.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars ++

Pub Date: Oct 24, 2023

Top Books of 2023


"Karma Brown keeps delivering knockout after knockout. She is an auto-buy author for me!"

—Taylor Jenkins Reid

If you want to transform, you can’t be tentative.

—Eddie Callaway, Wild Women Handbook (1975)

“What Wild Women Do is a total joy to read—it’s mysterious, atmospheric and pacey, with heaps of heart and soul. Rowan and Eddie are two women to root for, each on their own soul-searching journey of independence and a reckoning with their past. An uplifting celebration of women, and the courage it takes to find one’s true self.”

—Ashley Audrain, New York Times bestselling author of The Push

“Brown’s latest is a remarkable story of two complicated women, almost fifty years apart, trying to make a mark in a world that often demeans and trivializes their dreams. Set in the lush Adirondack forest, the story addresses feminism, friendship, and the creative spirit, and is guaranteed to keep readers guessing until the very end. A terrific read.”

—Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Spectacular

“Brown cleverly converges the two storylines…and the descriptions of the natural beauty and peace of the forest will have readers longing for an escape of their own. Readers who enjoy dual-time-period novels featuring strong women characters will be delighted.”


“A story of self-discovery in a gorgeously-drawn setting, What Wild Women Do isn’t afraid to confront the bold choices women must make sometimes, and its dual-timeline heroines are both perfectly suited for the job. Karma Brown’s latest is a heartfelt exploration into the importance of honesty, legacy, and being true to one’s self.”

—Shelby Van Pelt, New York Times bestselling author of Remarkably Bright Creatures

"As inspiring as it is compelling, What Wild Women Do is a poignant journey into the hearts of two women yearning to take up more space in the world. Karma Brown has offered a gift to the seeker, the treasure hunter, in all of us."

—Katie Gutierrez, national bestselling author of More Than You'll Ever Know

“Once again, Karma Brown has delivered a heartening and honest feminist tale of self-discovery. Part mystery, part ode to female solidarity and strength, What Wild Women Do explores the challenges faced by women who dare to defy societal expectations and prescriptions, and also serves as an important reminder that the path to healing doesn't always take the route we think it will.”

—Heather Marshall, #1 nationally bestselling author of Looking for Jane

"Brown's solid latest...will satisfy readers looking for an entertaining mystery."

—Publishers Weekly

“Karma Brown has long been one of my favourite authors, and no wonder. Her latest, What Wild Women Do is such a unique, compelling, and beautifully written story that sucked me in from the very first page. Part mystery, part journey to self-discovery, I quite simply loved everything about this book. A highly recommended, spectacular read.”

—Hannah Mary McKinnon, internationally bestselling author of The Revenge List

About the Author

Photo: © Natalie D’Souza

Karma Brown is the author of five novels: the #1 international bestseller Recipe for a Perfect Wife, Come Away with Me (a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2015), Globe and Mail and Toronto Star bestsellers The Choices We Make and In This Moment, and The Life Lucy Knew. She is also the author of The 4% Fix: How One Hour Can Change Your Life. An award-winning journalist, Karma has been published in SELF, Redbook, and Today’s Parent, among others. She lives just outside Toronto with her husband, daughter, and a Labradoodle named Fred. READ MORE



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