Grass by Sheri S. Tepper
The sci-fi classic by the woman who also gave us 'Still Life', 'Blood Heritage' and 'The Gate to Women's Country'.
The planet Grass is a strange world also it is free of the plague that is threatening humanity. Marjorie Westriding-Yrarier, her perpetually angry husband, bimbo daughter and doormat son are sent to Grass as Ambassadors, but their real mission is to find out why Grass is plague-free. Marjorie finds Grass a challenge, the planet is divided into the aristocratic bons, who do nothing but hunt and hang out at their isolated estates and the Commons, the port where the majority of Grass' inhabitants live and work. Both Commons and bons have mutual distain for each other.
Marjorie soon realises what is apparent to many Grass inhabitants, that there is something very wrong about the bons. The aristocrats live a detached lifestyle with their very alien mounts, hounds and foxen. There is something twisted and controlled about the culture on Grass, but this is not something that be talked about for fear of what might overhear. Marjorie and some allies have to uncover the true nature of Grass and the secrets of the planet and its inhabitants in order to ensure the survival of humanity. This is a good book that portrays a unique culture, interesting characters and an intriguing mystery.