That sweet inability to cope, so dear to the Victorian heart as true femininity, does not apply to these seven ""globe trotteresses."" They could cope like anything with anything. Isabella Bird Bishop, who crisscrossed the Orient and the American West when it simply wasn't being done, was inclined to hypochondria when confined to England but she developed ""the appetite of a tiger and the digestion of an ostrich."" Spinster-dowdy Marianne North set herself the task of painting every tropical plant she could get to in India, the Caribbean and Africa. She filled a museum. The formidable Fanny Bullock Workman, built like her middle name, championed women's rights while climbing up unlikely mountains hitherto reserved for men. So did Mary French Sheldon, who took darkest Africa by storm from a palanquin. Annie Taylor heeded the call to go and save the heathen and wasn't satisfied with any but Tibetan heathen, and Kate Marsden, a big, jolly nurse forced Tsarist Russia to do something about the Siberian lepers she rounded up. The best in show is Mary Kingsley, the only one here with a genuine sense of humor, who set herself up as an African trader to support her explorations. They all wrote copiously about their daring and the author selects from their monumental (and mostly unreadable) travel records to let them describe themselves. Lovely gels, amusing book.