Read The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood Online


Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in an abandoned property in the middle of a desert in a story of two friends, sisterly love and courage - a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted.Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how tTwo women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in an abandoned property in the middle of a desert in a story of two friends, sisterly love and courage - a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted.Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how they came to be there with eight other girls, forced to wear strange uniforms, their heads shaved, guarded by two inept yet vicious armed jailers and a 'nurse'. The girls all have something in common, but what is it? What crime has brought them here from the city? Who is the mysterious security company responsible for this desolate place with its brutal rules, its total isolation from the contemporary world? Doing hard labour under a sweltering sun, the prisoners soon learn what links them: in each girl's past is a sexual scandal with a powerful man. They pray for rescue - but when the food starts running out it becomes clear that the jailers have also become the jailed. The girls can only rescue themselves....

Title : The Natural Way of Things
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781760111236
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Natural Way of Things Reviews

  • Elyse
    2019-04-20 16:16

    Wow!!! Brave....THOUGHT 'unbelievable/unforgettable' reading experience!Yolanda wakes up in an empty room with no memory of how she got there. Verla, a young woman who seems familiar, sits nearby. The girls are sedated and disoriented. They are in a stark compound deep in the Australian the middle of nowhere without cell phones or computers. There is however an electrified fence around the entire borders of this horrific compound. Other captives -girls - are down the hallway - just coming in....10 girls total who have been kidnapped. Each have been marked by her own public sex scandal and, as a result, is now the ward of an outlandish system of corporate control."Vera listens hard again. It now seems listening might be her only hope. She hears the creak somewhere of a door, a bird's cheering. There will be a car engine, a plane, a train, something to locate them. There will be footsteps, talking, the presence of people in other rooms. She stares out the window at the weatherboards. There is nothing. The motor jerks -- it is a fringe -- and it clicks off"."Now there is no sound at all but the girls slow, solid breathing. She has moved to sit, on one of the chairs. She sits with her legs apart, her forehead in her hands, elbows on her knees. Her black hair a curtain, reaching almost to the floor"."Minutes pass, or hours"."At last the other girl speaks, her voice thick and throaty. Have you got a cigarette". Vera and Yolanda are dressed in strange prairie puppet's clothes. They hear men's voices beyond the door in the hallway.Their heads will be completely shaved. All ten girls will be forced to march (right - left - right - left) ... literally chained and linked together while walking around the compound. Eventually Vera and Yolanda form an alliance with enough power to bring down the entire system. We will root for them....but we are left with questions. I thought the beginning of this novel was 'exceptionally strong'....with no - nonsense writing. Author Charlotte Wood writes very straightforward/ direct....( which I like).....but somewhere in the middle of this novel I wished I knew 'more' about the backgrounds of the girls.....especially Vera and Yolanda. We never 'really' know 'why them' ... and why they were 'chosen'. ( for lack of a better word). We get 'hints' that by simply having a beautiful female body, it was a crime in itself. Were the girls brought to the compound to be brutally treated- punished -for having been considered beautiful?"There were no mirrors here. Strange, but she could almost forget her body, that marvelous thing. She used to stand before the mirror, wondering at it. It was something, all right. Must be, to cause such a fuss. She would stand there staring at it. trying to understand, to see it as they saw it.""So now she lay on the bed and waited, which was kind of funny because doing that was what had started all this. But nothing could be more different, because here was the rasping nightgown even in the heat, the vast empty land outside coming alive and nobody caring where she was, even her troublesome body forgotten except for this: to March, to feel pain, to hunger and thirst, to eat and to sleep, to piss and shit and bleed." This book won the 2016 Indi Book of the Year. It 'is' extraordinary...but we are left with questions. I suppose this is done on purpose. Courageous beautiful writing. The ending is a combination of happy and haunting.

  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    2019-04-24 15:56

    Charlotte Wood's fifth novel is a disturbing yet beautiful and thought-provoking exploration into the misogyny lurking beneath Australia's good-natured, laid-back, egalitarian image. It is inspired, in part, by the Hay Institution for Girls, "an offshoot of Parramatta Girls Home that was reserved for the 10 worst offenders in the state in the 1960s and '70s. They were drugged and put on a train to the decommissioned men's prison in south-western NSW, where they were forced to march, look at the floor, never talk to each other, and endure rape and other violence." (Susan Wyndham, SMH) It is also inspired, or influenced, by the reaction to sex scandals over the years - far from being seen as victims, or equally responsible, the women in these scandals are vilified and denigrated - and hated.In such ways do incredible true stories and a confronting dystopian fiction come together. In Wood's alternate present day setting, ten girls are drugged and taken to a remote sheep station, long abandoned and falling into ruin, in outback Australia (the state isn't clear but it would be either Victoria or NSW, most likely). They wake groggy and fearful, without their clothes or possessions, wearing old-fashioned clothes to which a leash can be attached and locked. Their heads are shaved, they're served small portions of the least nutritious food you can think of - Kraft-style Mac and Cheese, two-minute noodles, no fruit or veg - and bullied and beaten by the two men hired to guard them. Boncer and Teddy - and a young woman of dubious background herself, Nancy, who dresses up as a nurse with paper costume pieces and plastic toy stethoscope - are their guards. Surrounded by a high electrified fence, they are all locked in, trapped, but for the ten young women their lesson is to learn what they are, not who; and for the men, it is to teach them this.This nightmare situation (as a female reader, I couldn't help but feel vulnerable, even threatened) is vividly rendered in Wood's delicate, descriptive prose and made all the more frightening by the idea, lurking beneath the surreal every-day existence depicted, that this plan wasn't even thought through all that well; or that, if it was carefully planned, it was planned by a truly cruel, evil fuck who has no regard for human life, health or sanity. It is the not-knowing, the ambiguity, the lack of information and facts that add to the tension and terror for the reader. Trying to imagine adults sitting down and planning this, justifying it, and then seeing it through makes my brain want to shut down. And yet, as evidenced by the real-life inspiration from the Hay Institution for Girls, it is entirely possible, today as well. It comes down to attitudes, to ideological mind-sets, to what a collective group of people believe is true and right. That's how we justify all manner of things, from bombing foreign towns to imprisoning Aboriginal peoples for minor infractions. Wood's ultimate triumph, in terms of ideas, is to remind us mutable our ideologies really are, and how, for as much as we like to think we are advanced, civilised, better than before, we actually have an awful long way to go. The reason, the ultimate reason why The Natural Way of Things is so disturbing and terrifying, is that there is a part of me that gets it, that understands that there is only a thin membrane of love, compassion and strength keeping women safe in this and many other Western countries.I hear accounts of people claiming that feminism is no longer needed, isn't necessary, isn't important - that plenty of women not only don't consider themselves feminists, but have come to believe some strange version of reality in which feminism is a negative thing, a repressive or virulent, angry and hateful thing. What could be more successful to the largely-unconscious patriarchal agenda than this re-writing of feminism? Whoever owns the definition of a word, owns the word, and sadly, these days, women no longer own their own word. "Women are their own worst enemy" is a common enough saying - I say it myself - and I believe it is often, sadly, true. We constantly sabotage our own efforts at being - not just taken seriously, but treated equally. This is captured in rather pessimistic ways by Wood's characters, from the two main female narrators - Verla, in first-person present-tense, and Yolanda, in third-person past tense - to the other eight girls unjustly imprisoned with them. Verla was involved in an affair with a politician and still, naively, believes that Andrew will come and rescue her, that she's different from the others, whom she judges almost as harshly as everyone else has done. Yolanda is the most clued-in, but she is also the only one who wasn't tricked into signing her rights away. She knew something was up, and she fought. They overwhelmed her and drugged her anyway, and she knows no one is coming for them because even her beloved brother was in on it. The other young women, all involved in various different kinds of scandals for which they took all the hate, represent different kinds of women, but none of them are particularly flattering. Barbs, the swimmer, is a big girl who suffers such a violent beating on their first day for speaking out that her jaw is permanently crooked, is obviously the butch one. Three of the girls become obsessed with their body hair, tweezing them out of each other's bodies, trying to maintain a look that they have long been trained to want. Hetty, "the cardinal's girl" (and doesn't that just make you cringe?) is depicted as small-minded and somewhat malicious. The list goes on, none of it flattering.Yet such is the way Woods has crafted this novel that you come away with a clearer understanding: we're all flawed, none of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, and while you might not want someone like Hetty as a friend, or even value her as you would Verla, does she deserve this? Hopefully, the answer for all readers is a resounding NO! And as much as I'd like to think, "Oh this could never happen", a part of me doesn't really believe that. I read this - in a day - just as the Briggs scandal broke, and the cricket player Chris Gayle got in trouble for his comments to a female sports reporter. An Age article brought attention to how the woman at the receiving end of Briggs' unwanted attention was being turned into the scapegoat rather than the victim, while following the Gayle story showed how quickly most of the country went from "His comments to a professional journalist were a swift means of reducing her from a serious journalist to an object for the male gaze" to "this is a complete over-reaction, lighten up, his comments were meant innocently, the political correctness police are going too far". That reporter understands her male-dominated world and distanced herself from it all, saving her job and her reputation, while the public servant in the Briggs' case was close to experiencing complete demolition because she made a complaint. It's telling. There is also the on-going discussions of the high rate of domestic violence in Australia, which is a huge problem and caused by, among other things, this over-arching lack of respect for women.But none of this would be as memorable and hard-hitting if it weren't for Wood's writing. While I thought her control wasn't consistent and I found the use of present tense annoying and pointless for Verla's narration, overall it is beautifully and poetically written. Something incredible is done to violence when written in such simple yet beautiful language as this:One big girl, fair-skinned with fleshy cheeks and wide, swimmer's shoulders, said irritably, 'What? We can't hear you,' and then closed her eyes against the sun, hands on her hips, murmuring something beneath her breath. So she didn't see the man's swift, balletic leap - impossibly pretty and light across the gravel - and a leather-covered baton in his hand coming whack over the side of her jaw. They all cried out with her as she fell, shrieking in pain. Some of their arms came out to try to catch her. They cowered. More than one began crying as they hurried then, into a line. [p.24]The contrast of Boncer's 'swift, balletic leap - impossibly pretty' with the violent beating of Barb increases the shock value, the sense of wrongness and the realisation of powerlessness. Violence against women (such as domestic violence) has long proved an effective tool in the hands of misogynistic men. At other times, especially after the power goes out (except for the electric fence) and they run out of food, and begin going crazy in their own separate ways, Wood's prose captures a primordial truth as well as day-to-day reality:Yolanda hugged the squishy mint-green and baby-pink packages to her chest, squatting in the grief and shame of how reduced she was by such ordinary things. It was why they were here, she understood now. For the hatred of what came out of you, what you contained. What you were capable of. She understood because she shared it, this dull fear and hatred of her body. It had bloomed inside her all her life, purged but regrowing, unstoppable, every month: this dark weed and the understanding that she was meat, was born to make meat. [p.122]It is a theme I've been interested in for some time now, this idea of shame and women's bodies, of the successful rewriting and control of women's bodies by, really, the Catholic Church and then, really, everyone. I'm very much of the mind that women need to reclaim their bodies, their right to their bodies but also how they value them and their needs and desires. I'm resistant to Yolanda's view, but I can understand it. And in many cultures around the world, past and present, women are controlled through the social traditions dictating behaviour and menstruation. As if, by teaching girls and women to see themselves in this low way, they remove the power that females rightfully possess, out of the age-old fear of woman's ability to create life. And as is often the way in literature, where this discourse of womanhood and power appear, so too does a representation of the landscape, the natural world:When she wakes, her face printed with grass blades, she finds her way to a hillside of scrub. She walks in it like a dream, climbing the slope in the noisy silence. Silty leaves cling to the soles of her feet. There is the patter of wet droplets falling from the gently moving leaves far above. High squeaks and tin musical turnings of tiny birds. Sometimes a hard rapid whirr, a sprung diving board, and a large dove explodes from a vine and vanishes. A motorised insect drones by her ear. She looks upwards, upwards, and sees long shreds of bark, or abandoned human skins, hanging in the branches. The bush breathes her in. It inhales her. She is mesmerised by pairs of seed pods nestled at the base of a grass tree: hot orange, bevelled, testicular. [p.135]A dichotomy of human-made vs. nature is a common-enough theme, but here rendered all the more turbulent and visceral by the circumstances, the very premise of the story. Even the title, The Natural Way of Things, speaks of this idea. It can refer to our determination to claim, possess and control - through language more than anything else - the natural world, which is also representative of womanhood (Mother Earth etc.), and also to a primordial, primitive and thus 'natural' way of life, an absence of so-called civilisation - relevant to Yolanda's increasing strangeness as she becomes one with the land, and Verla's ultimate decision. It speaks to the sadness I was left with at the end, which presents a kind of either/or scenario: either you live in the 'civilised' world and let it dictate who and what you are, or you shun it entirely, abandon it and become 'primitive'. Again, this is how we often grasp the world, and attempt to tame it: through words, and the positive or negative connotations of words. The ambiguous ending, with its taint of further horror balanced by a thin brush of hope, makes it clear who has really won in this world, which is really our world in disguise.Make sure, when you start this book, that you have nothing planned for the day, because you'll want to read it all the way through in one sitting - and should. This is a book I will enjoy re-reading, and pondering anew. It has so far been nominated and longlisted for a couple of awards, and I hope to see it appear on more lists this year. It is a deserving book, working on multiple levels and one of those lovely rare treasures that can be interpreted and experienced in different ways by different readers, making it rich and unique. Comparisons have been made (in the blurb) to The Handmaid's Tale and Lord of the Flies, but 'comparison' is the wrong word for it: it is more that The Natural Way of Things has joined an on-going exploration into human behaviour, the powerful dominance of ideologies and their effect on both individuals and culture, and violence.

  • Phrynne
    2019-04-19 20:54

    I am on the fence about this book. On the plus side it is well written and I felt compelled to keep reading through to the end. On the minus side though the plot was totally unrealistic and the ending was awful. I have never liked books which do not tell me what happens next - I am the reader not the author so my job is to listen, the author's is to tell. I felt the author let me down on this one. As for the plot, I felt pretty sure a large group of women in this situation would not have behaved as they do in this book. Some of them at least would have formed a bond and would have taken action. Anyway I read it all, apart from skimming some of the really gross parts, and decided it was okay but it would not be winning any prizes from me.

  • John Purcell
    2019-03-31 13:11

    Charlotte Wood's latest novel,The Natural Way of Things, seethes with an anger the source of which doesn't seem to be the text itself. Speaking with her, she does admit on reading an early draft to being surprised at discovering this underlying anger in her novel.Charlotte's last novel, Animal People, sought out the smoothed over hypocrisy of modern life. The sound of muffled laughter accompanied each page.   The Natural Way of Things is different. Different to her other work in many ways. There is Charlotte's crisp realism, her economy of words, her precision, but she has used these tools to conjure up an alternative present, one which sits frighteningly close to reality. A plausible dystopian vision.The books opens with two women waking in some sort of prison, they have been drugged and are groggy. Neither woman can conceive of how they might have come to be in prison. Neither woman can make sense of the way they are being treated.A few pages in and we find that these women are not alone. There are other women, and the one thing all seem to share is that they have been involved in some sexual scandal, or were the victims of sexual abuse, or were young women having fun. Too much fun, their incarceration seemed to declare.Born of the incessant reporting of sexual crimes against women where the victim is made out to be the perpetrator, The Natural Way of Things takes this world only one or two steps forward. Shaming women in the media might not be enough for the next government. Australia has been guilty of locking up women for less in the past, and a future government might find it expedient to punish women for being victims of sexual crimes. This makes Charlotte angry, it seems. So she wrote The Natural Way of Things from this reservoir of anger without quite realising it. And what she has written will be one of the most talked about novels of the year. Because unlike a lot of us when we're angry, Charlotte kept her cool.

  • Brenda
    2019-04-03 13:20

    Nineteen year old Yolanda Kovacs woke to uncertainty and strangeness. Dressed in an old fashioned and scratchy nightgown - unable to remember how she got wherever she was; why she was there and who had put her there. In another room Verla had also woken; confused, disorientated, drugged – she sat on a chair and waited. When Yolanda was brought to Verla’s room, their thoughts consumed them but they didn’t speak; when the door opened and the man said “Who wants to go first?” their fear was palpable. Far out in the stark and lonely desert in the middle of Australia was a vast property; but this wasn’t a property bustling with sheep or cattle – it had been abandoned; surrounded by a high electric fence, the buildings in the centre were run-down and desolate. Here, Yolanda, Verla and eight other girls were imprisoned; their guards, two men who were cruel and vicious, and who took great delight in beating them, plus a woman who called herself the nurse.Shaved completely bald and dressed in filthy uniforms, the young women were chained together and marched to where they had to go – fed slops and made to work from dawn to dusk. They were locked in their rooms each night and the threats from their jailers meant they were terrified, fearful for their lives. But as the days turned into weeks and the relentless heat caused sunburn and more, they struggled to discover the reasons for their incarceration. Yolanda and Verla formed an alliance; the other women formed small groups – and gradually things changed…Slowly the food began to run out – the jailers were becoming nervous. What was happening? Had they all, including their guards, been abandoned? Could Yolanda devise a plan? What would happen to these poor victimised women whom it appeared no one was looking for?Wow! What an amazing book! The Natural Way of Things by Aussie author Charlotte Wood has blown me away! I struggled with this review as I feel it’s hard to do justice to the author’s writing; I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished, and I would have to say it is definitely one of my favourites for the year. Intense, imaginative and utterly extraordinary The Natural Way of Things is profound and unputdownable. I have no hesitation in recommending it extremely highly to all.With thanks to The Reading Room and Allen & Unwin for my copy to read and review.

  • Roger Brunyate
    2019-04-08 17:56

    Oh My Gosh!Did I enjoy this book? No, no way. It was horrible, excruciating, delving deep into degradation, then digging still deeper. But did I admire it? Oh my gosh, yes! From beginning to end, it had an inescapable fascination, beginning as a mystery, then moving into a nightmare where humans become as animals, then wresting strength from the depths and rising to moments of sheer magnificence. I still don't understand it, but know I have never read anything quite like it. Even though I already have a sui generis shelf, this almost demands a new one, all on its own. And without doubt it goes straight onto my Top Ten of 2016.Two young women, Velna and Yolanda, wake up from a drugged sleep to find they are on an abandoned sheep station somewhere in the Australian desert. They are taken away, shaved bald, dressed in strange uniforms, then linked in a chain gang with ten other women for a forced march to the perimeter of the property, which is surrounded by an electrified steel fence. They are given sludge to eat, made of dried instant food made into a paste with water. At night, they are locked into animal pens. There are only two guards, Boncer and Teddy, who spend their time talking about what they would do to women and women have done to them. For it soon becomes clear that the one thing connecting all these prisoners is that they were each involved in some sex scandal which made the national media. As we gradually hear more of their various back-stories (though never in full), it also becomes clear that the women themselves bear very little of the blame. But that does not stop them being branded as sluts and slags and sent to this penal colony out of some Australian Kafka. Though the questions remain of who condemned them, who sent them here, and whether they will ever be released.What would people in their old lives be saying about these girls? Would they be called missing? Would some documentary program on TV that nobody watched, or one of those thin newspaper nobody read, somehow connect their cases. find the thread to make them a story? The Lost Girls, they could be called. Would it be said, they 'disappeared,' 'were lost'? Would it be said they were abandoned or taken, the way people said a girl was attacked, a woman was raped, this femaleness always at the center, as if womanhood itself were the cause of these things? As if the girls somehow, through the natural way of things, did it to themselves.This is a book that could only be written by a woman, because no man would dare. These are women, defiled because they are women, constantly brought up against the animal quality of their womanly nature. It becomes a profoundly feminist book in an unlikely way, by first embracing the utmost degradation in order to push through to the other side. These are women caged like animals, hardly able to wash themselves or their clothes, let alone manage their special needs. I am quoting the passage below rather than some more gentle one because I want readers to know the extremes of what they are getting into, yet I am doing so as a spoiler so you can leave it to your own imagination if you prefer; it is very intense:(view spoiler)[All these months, the disgusting shredded rags jammed into your underpants, soaking through. It was worse than anything, the beatings or the hunger, the infections or insults. The wet wad of torn-up tea towels and fraying curtain and threadbare sheet, of old underpants and flannelette shirt ripped into patches and strips, somehow rolled and folded into a horrible lump, forced upwards to mould up into yourself, but the loose stupid bloomers and all of it drenching too quickly, rasping your thighs as you walked, soaking and dribbling. The coppery smell, the chafing hatred in it. Then having to rinse them in dirty tank water in the trough outside the laundry, hang the fluttering rusty flags in the sun. Yolanda had retched into the grass the first three times she'd had to plunge them into the dirty water, clouding with her own trailing mess. (hide spoiler)]It is hard to imagine a writer, male or female, going further or hammering her points with such horrifying skill. This is probably the most extreme such passage, though far from the only one. But Wood is capable of transcendence also, perhaps because it is viewed from such depths. Here is Velna, some months later, running away from Boncer, knowing that he means to kill her:It is not Boncer. The thrashing has stopped; she can see nothing in the silence. Then there it is: the stark, dark narrow face. A kangaroo, straightening itself, growing taller. It watches her, small black paws held delicately before it. They watch each other. Then she sees the other little malleted dark faces: three, six, ten of them—all stopped, all watching her as she slowly perceives their presence. She takes a breath, very still—and then they tilt forwards and make to leap. But then more noise, and more, and all the vegetation thrashes in syncopation; all the bush leaps into shocking life, and she stands motionless, captured, as the blurring streamers of twenty, sixty, a hundred animals overtake her, hurling past. Unseeing, unstoppable, magnificent.Is this reality, or delirium? One of the most amazing things about Charlotte Wood is that she never lets up, refuses to take the easy way out. You may read in the cover praise that Yolanda and Velna form a bond that somehow rises above these conditions and ultimately defeats them. This is true in a way; they each help the other discover unseen strengths in their womanhood that could not have come except through suffering. But they do this in very different ways that pull them apart as much as together, and make any happy-ending reabsorption into society less and less likely. And when the happy ending—or something very like it—does finally arrive, Wood has a further twist or two up her sleeve that left me uncertain whether to scream or cheer, sure only that I had come to the end of something utterly extraordinary.

  • Allyce Cameron
    2019-04-07 15:59

    What did I just read?!That was the first thing that popped into my head as I turned the final page and placed the book onto my bedside table. Ok, so it's undeniably well written. Descriptive but still really down to earth and relatively easy to read. On the surface it's about a group of women who wake up in the middle of the outback after a "sexual scandal" with a powerful man and are being held captive. Now, when I read the back I was under the impression that they were mistresses who had been outed and were now in disgrace or something like that. And for one of the women that's true. Most of the others have been sexually harrassed, raped or otherwise abused and need to be gotten rid of. So I was getting really angry reading it. Which was probably exactly the point. I loved that one chapter that talked about "the natural way of things", I thought it was really clever and made you think. I also felt like I never really connected to the two main characters and I couldn't really relate to what was happening. And the whole rabbit/nature thing went way over my head. I get that she's not the same person as she was before and it's about her freedom but if there was meant to be a deeper meaning I didn't get it. And then the way it ended or rather didn't. Very frustrating. The main feeling that I got was just what the hell.

  • Suzanne
    2019-04-05 13:21

    I owned this book but ended up giving it to a friend as a gift before I read it. I kept seeing the book on the shelf at work, in fact it's a reserve item, therefore necessary reading for a course. I need to look more into this as I am very curious as to what it is being taught for and why. A student that I see all the time recommended it to me, so when he returned the item I loaned it to myself then and there. I have never read this author before. The blurb states a friendship as being an integral part of the storyline. I didn't find this to be the case to me. It was an odd, dystopian like story that was just strange. Mysogony was the word here, and the actions of the women involved didn't ring true. I'm not sure if they'd had acted as I would have. It was a strange one, with no real resolution. It is realistically a 2.5 star read for me.

  • Hugh
    2019-04-01 13:08

    I have decidedly mixed feelings about this book. I think it was a mistake to sell it as a dystopian fantasy - there is nothing in it that requires any imaginative leaps, but instead we have a moving and well written story set in what is almost the real modern Australia.The plot centres on two young women Yolanda and Verla, who wake up from a drug-induced sleep in a bleak prison camp in rural Australia where their heads are shaved, they are forced to wear bonnets that restrict their vision and uncomfortable old fashioned clothes, while being locked into converted dog kennels at night. It soon emerges that what links them and their fellow captives is that they have all spoken about their sexual relations with rich and famous men. The guards are the brutal but weak Boncer, the apparently hippie-ish but self-serving Teddy and "nurse" Nancy who appears to have no medical knowledge.The book gets more interesting when it becomes clear that the guards have also been deceived, food and power supplies run out and they only survive because the resourceful Yolanda discovers how to use some abandoned rabbit traps to hunt for food. Yolanda becomes increasingly wild, and Verla gradually loses her conviction that her politician lover will rescue her.While the relentlessly bleak storyline makes this a difficult read, I thought it worked very well, and it is not difficult to imagine this kind of thing happening in a world so driven by hate-fuelled populism.

  • Trudie
    2019-04-08 19:12

    Well, if ever there was a book you should not judge by it's rather beautiful cover it is this one. This book was a relentless, visceral slog. Certainly, as others have said it sits somewhere in the realm of a dystopian Atwood and a female Lord of the Flies. I don't think it is anywhere near as good as either of those books, but obviously I would have settled for much less. This novel however just confused me, bludgeoning me with grim imagery and a sort of overbearing theme of misogyny. I read blithely on misguided in the expectation that I would come to understand these woman and their back story. That there would be some reader payoff for all the rabbit skinning, mysterious animal appearances, bodily odours and grime that is pretty much the bulk of the novel. Oh well, not the book for me, but many reviews on here see something in this that I can't grasp and that really is the joy of reading and discussing books.

  • PattyMacDotComma
    2019-03-30 19:23

    4★It’s 5-star writing but I disliked the story too much to rate it any higher. In fact, I ended up skimming the last part of the book because I didn’t care what further atrocities befell the women, whether or not they 'deserved' it.Young women wake up in a desert compound, apparently recovering from being drugged. All appear to have had some notoriety or fame because of affairs or loose behaviour, and they’re now being punished and treated like prisoners.They wake up alone, terrified, and are collected and sent into a room where a guy who seems stoned is cutting their hair. Eventually, he gives up on the blunt scissors and tries an electric razor. We see much of the story through Verla’s eyes.“She looked down at the floor. Hair was only hair, as it fell. But there was so much of it, first in long shining straps, then little glossy black humps so the floorboards were covered in small dark creatures, waiting to be brought to life there on the ground.”She’s got no idea what’s going on.“Finally, some instinct rises. She runs her tongue over her teeth, furred like her mind. She hears her own thick voice deep inside her ears when she says, ‘I need to know where I am.’The man stands there, tall and narrow, hand still on the doorknob, surprised. He says, almost in sympathy, ‘Oh, sweetie. You need to know what you are.’"That is as close as we ever get to a kind word from the two men who are guarding and beating them. It just gets worse—they lug huge concrete blocks, possibly to make a road, and eat rotten food and spoiled milk.Miserable. Well-written but miserable. I’ve seen comparisons with Lord of the Flies , but this doesn’t seem to be the same kind of parable about humans being reduced to savage behaviour in trying circumstances. I would love to read something else by the author because she's such a wonderful writer, but not this.

  • Michael
    2019-04-08 19:06

    Ten young women wake up in what can only be described as hell. With their heads shaven, they are taken to an isolated area that is surrounded by an electrified fence. For what seems like a never ending time, they are forced to live in conditions not even fit enough for animals. Their only sin it seems that connects them all is their transgression's with powerful men. Told through the experiences of two of these women (Yolanda and Verla), we see as they are stripped of their freedom and every sense of what life was like before their incarceration. Forced into hard labour, beaten and starved by their male captures over time they learn to adapt to survive.Told over three brutal and compelling parts - the story for me at least highlights of the cruelty of man over women who are robbed of their dignity and brutalised into submission. This does sound heavy duty and for much of book the sense of dread is consuming. The feeling of hope is there as we see the women show signs of resilience as they try to turn the tables and regain what they have lost during their horrible ordeal. At times chilling, but never over the top with the violence, Charlotte Woods fifth novel will captivate with the quality of it's delivery and comes highly recommended.

  • Jill
    2019-03-29 16:58

    Wow! Allow me a minute to decompress after one of the most harrowing and visceral reading I’ve experienced in a long time. Think: Lord of the Flies. Think: A Handmaid’s Tale. And then ratchet up the horror by a few degrees.At the start of the novel, we become aware that 10 young women have been drugged and abducted to a desolate Australian outback, contained within a 30-foot electric fence and supervised by two brutal male guards. What do they have in common? It doesn’t take them long to figure it out: each of them has been involved in a sex scandal with a powerful man. They are “the minister’s little travel-tramp and that-Skype slut and the yuck-ugly-dog from the cruise ship…and the bogan-gold-digger-gangbang slut.”Yet two of the women stand out from the pack: the ravishing Yolanda who possesses stores of strength and the insightful Verla, the one-time lover of a married politico who can’t help but feel she is there by a gross mistake. The author differentiates them while tying them into the rest of the captives.Charlotte Wood writes, “There was no self inside that thing they pawed and thrust and butted at, only fleecy punishable flesh.” Their “crimes” are only hinted at; the author trusts us to fill in the blanks. Here they are degraded, reduced to their animal selves, forced to become feral in order to survive. They are forced to adhere to the natural order of things: the belief that they “did it to themselves, they marshaled themselves into this prison, where they had made their beds, and now, once more, were lying in them.”This is a book about many things: contemporary misogyny, sisterly courage, the interweaving of humans and nature, the cruelty that is masked by our civilized veneers. It is brilliant, stark, gripping and brutal. It is also unforgettable and it will definitely make my “Best of 2016” list.

  • Kathy
    2019-04-08 21:04

    I’m feeling bad that I cannot give this book a higher rating but I really did not connect with it at all. Great literary writing but not my idea of a good read. The strength of the women was all I really got from it……and I just feel confused. It’s harrowing, brutal and that’s about it……sorry I cannot give it more.

  • Claudia
    2019-04-04 21:19

    Das Einzige, was Margaret AtWOOD und Charlotte WOOD gemeinsam haben, ist das kleine WOOD.Man nehme 2 Löffel von "Report der Magd", gebe 1 Prise "Herr der Fliegen" dazu, verrühre das Ganze und fertig ist die geschmacklose Pampe. Zehn Mädchen werden wegen sexueller Verfehlungen in ein Camp mitten ins Outback gekarrt. Dort steckt man sie in Amish-Klamotten und schert ihnen die Köpfe kahl. Außerdem müssen sie schwer schuften und bekommen nicht anständig zu essen. Gehorchen sie nicht, werden sie von Boncer (einem Aufseher) mit einem Stock geschlagen. Die Mädchen sollen sich bewusst machen, was sie wirklich sind: FLITTCHEN.Dieser Boncer ist über lange Zeit hinweg nur mit einem Stock bewaffnet. Da müsste doch was gehen, wenn sich 10 Mädels zusammentun. Aber nein, demütig und kampflos ergeben sie sich in ihr Schicksal und überlassen dem pickeligen Jüngling die Macht.Auch der extrem hohe Ekelfaktor und das ständige Töten von Tieren hat mich gestört. Frau Wood beschreibt mit einer Hingabe, die mir kalte Schauer über den Rücken jagt, das ständige Verreiben von Kaninchenhirnmasse und das Verarbeiten von Gedärmen. Das wird in schöner Regelmäßigkeit wiederholt. (Wenn ich sowas lesen möchte, greife ich zu Cody McFadyen.)Das Einige, was mir gefallen hat, ist die Beschreibung, was für die Mädchen wichtig ist, um in dieser Extremsituation zu überleben.Vorne im Klappentext steht was Erheiterndes von einer Zeitung:"Woods Auseinandersetzung mit unserer Kultur und Gegenwart ist bestechend und brilliant. :DSchaut so die Gegenwart Australiens aus? Frauen, ihr habt mein Mitleid.

  • Bianca
    2019-03-30 13:56

    This novel has been lauded left, right and centre, so I felt a bit of pressure to go ga-ga over it.But I can't and I won't.It was far from terrible, but as far as I am concerned it didn't blow my mind away, and worst of all, it didn't touch me on an emotional level, and I have a big problem with this, especially when it's supposed to be a dystopian novel, with misogynism at its core. I consider myself a staunch feminist, so I am perplexed by my apathy, especially given how easily I get fired up. Yes, this novel was brutal, horrific things happen to these ten young women, who are clueless as to why they're imprisoned on a secluded, derelict property somewhere in the Australian desert/bush.Besides the fact that I never cared for any characters, there were way too many questions left unanswered, andI do not like that! Maybe if the novel were set in a completely dystopian time, I would have had fewer issues with this book. But with the exception of the lawlessness of the women being imprisoned and their mistreatment, everything else was contemporary and known to me - therefore it was more difficult to suspend my disbelief and just go with it. In some ways, this book reminded me of A Little Life, which was filled with torture and misery. Of course, this was nowhere near as gratuitously sadistic, but because of the many questions left unanswered, I couldn't help but think that Wood tried to dazzle us with some shocking imagery without putting together a cohesive, credible story.This novel goes towards Aussie Author Challenge on Booklover Book Review.

  • Trav
    2019-04-09 13:59

    2.5 stars. The first 100 or so pages I absolutely devoured this book; by the middle my interest began to wane; and by the end of it I was hate reading. So, what went wrong?The Natural Way of Things is a dystopian novel about the horrors of misogyny, reminiscent of both The Handmaid's Tale and Lord of the Flies. Wood's prose is both lyrical and captivating yet ferociously visceral. There's a lot of anger in her writing, to the point where it's almost pure unadulterated hatred. The anger seems to rush out in palpable waves and consume you. Even Wood's herself commented on how surprised she was at the anger she had when writing it. As a feminist, I understand the anger -- I get it -- what I struggled with was the anger and hostility between the girls. Wouldn't you want to form a bond with each other given the circumstances? The whole thing left me feeling indifferent.... And the ending? If that was even what you would call an ending, left me confused. If there was underlying symbolism to it then it completely went over my head.I've come to realise that if I don't have any empathy for the characters, if I don't feel a tangible connection, then no matter how much I adore an authors writing style, it still isn't enough; and therein lies the problem of why I didn't enjoy this book. I didn't like or care for any of the characters. I really wanted to, but nothing endeared me to them; and Woods' writing wasn't enough for me to enjoy this book. I was disappointed because I had such high hopes for this one, but it just wasn't for me.

  • Britta Böhler
    2019-04-19 14:10

    I wonder why this book wasn't on the Manbooker longlist this year. Too angry maybe? Because it is an angry book. And political.The anger and the politics are wrapped skillfully in a dark and often confrontational tale, a parable really, about how we perceive and mistreat female victims of sexual harrassment or sexual scandals, in particular if the men involved hold positions of power, politically or economically. And with "we" I mean men and women, because the ten women in the book - who are kept prisoner after having been abducted and shipped off to a remote compound in the Australian outback - show that misogynistic power play does not only dictate male behaviour but that it also affects how women see themselves and other women. One might disagree with the author's view on the redemptive force of nature but even for those readers the book is a powerful and beautifully written story that shows how difficult it is to free ourselves from pre-existing views and prejudices, even in dire and life threatening circumstances.

  • Elaine
    2019-03-26 15:59

    All my friends who read and reviewed this book rated it 4 stars or more. I'm not quite sure what it was about it but for me this was barely a 3 star read. Whilst very well written and the descriptions of the women who were imprisoned and their surrounds perfectly related, I just struggled to become invested. Some of the descriptions were so quintessentially Australian and this was one of the highlights. Gritty and confronting, it was just too much for me to take in and I just didn't find it compelling enough. There were moments where I could become involved in the trials and tribulations of these poor women and even some profound moments where you cannot help but become emotionally involved but the over riding feeling I got from reading this book was one of revulsion. I just couldn't handle the graphic and very base nature of the story as it unfolded. And yes,like another GR friend I felt that a lot was left unanswered and I wasn't completely satisfied with the ending. But Charlotte Wood can definitely write and beautifully and here she held nothing back. Unfortunately, I think for me it was a case of the wrong book at the wrong time. I won this book so I thank the publisher for my copy.

  • Carina
    2019-04-24 19:04

    Bloody hell. Calmly and naturally horrific, with tones of Attwood.

  • Book Riot Community
    2019-04-23 17:54

    This book tells the story of a group of girls whose only link is that they were all part of a sex-related scandal that made headlines. They had affairs. They were sexually harassed and/or assaulted by their employers or people in positions of authority. And, one morning, they wake up on a run-down sheep station. Their heads are shaved, they are given old-fashioned, highly uncomfortable clothing, and they’re forced into a life of servitude. They don’t know why. They don’t know how. And they don’t know if there is an end in sight. It’s “As if the girls somehow, through the natural way of things, did it to themselves.” I picked this one up because someone said it had a Margaret Atwood vibe, and while there are definite hints of Atwood there, The Natural Way of Things is definitely its own animal. And that’s true in more than one way.–Cassandra Neace from The Best Books We Read In July 2016:

  • Mary
    2019-04-14 16:03

    Would it be said, they 'disappeared', 'were lost'? Would it be said they were abandoned or taken, the way people said a girl was attacked, a woman was raped, this femaleness always at the centre, as if womanhood itself were the cause of these things? As if the girls somehow, through the natural way of things, did it to themselves. They lured abduction and abandonment to themselves, they marshaled themselves into this prison where they had made their beds, and now, once more, were lying in them.

  • Michael Robotham
    2019-04-14 18:19

    This award-winning, dystopian tale, has some wonderfully descriptive writing, but left me wanting so much more. I found elements quite repetitive and ultimately too many questions left unanswered. I love challenging books that require the reader to fill in the blanks, but this can go too far. In particular, I wanted to learn more about the back story of the 'fallen' women in the story. I wanted to read more of how their lives were destroyed by misogyny and the media. I wanted to get angry. The ending is haunting, but I will probably spend years trying to work out what it meant.

  • Lotte
    2019-04-06 16:06

    3.5/5.An angry and downright brutal book that offers lots of food for thought. Ultimately however, the story, paired with the eerily beautiful, yet sometimes weirdly cruel writing style, was just way too violent and the atmosphere too bleak and depressing for me to actually enjoy the process of reading this book. And this is coming from someone who usually loves that kind of stuff in fiction. I also feel like there were quite a few parts that could've been shortened, because the story dragged a lot around the middle.If this book interests you and you feel like you can stomach some tough content (animal cruelty and violence is described in detail, while sexual assault is hinted at and referenced throughout the book), then I'd still recommend it as incredibly important social commentary on sexism in the media and in everyday life.

  • Lualunera
    2019-04-22 21:10

    Para mí esto no entra en la categoría de libro “feminista”. Además he pasado la novela con ganas de vomitar en cada página. Y soy capaz de leer sobre cosas horribles, oscuras y asquerosas (de hecho me gusta hacerlo, llamadme masoquista) pero, ¿de verdad eran necesarias tantísimas y tantísimas Y TANTÍSIMAS escenas de maltrato animal? Entiendo que forma parte del mensaje, de ese lado salvaje del ser humano que quiere transmitir la autora, de la destrucción de estas mujeres y su “renacer” como animales, pero ¿de verdad era necesario? No lo creo. Si necesitas contarme con detalles cómo matar a un conejo y más cosas que no voy a contar... es fácil que me hagas sentir asco. Es la manera fácil de hacerlo. No tiene mérito.Tampoco he quedado contenta con el desenlace, demasiado vago en mi opinión, ni con que se me vendiese esto como una historia que rompe los mitos patriarcales. Para mí se queda en el intento y siento decir esto pero no recomiendo que perdáis vuestro tiempo. Y por favor, que dejen de compararla con “El cuento de la criada” porque es el mismo engaño que todos los libros que fueron publicados con la premisa de ser similares a Los juegos del hambre. No creéis falsas expectativas a los lectores. Gracias.

  • Vanessa
    2019-04-23 16:57

    A vey dark twisted story written with a vivid narrative unlike anything I've read before will stick with me for awhile. I only wish there was more of a back story as it was only given in snippets, it felt abit disjointed for me at times and I was left wanting more. This book left me with more questions than answers and left me hanging at the end, it felt abit rushed and incomplete

  • Spongerina
    2019-03-27 21:17

    Feminist. More horror than thriller. Great exploration of women in society, women and sexuality and women discovering the self.

  • RavenclawReadingRoom
    2019-04-02 15:21

    3.5 stars. I think... My initial reaction when I finished this book was simple: "The fuck did I just read?" Ten hours later, my thoughts haven't changed that much. In short:1. This book is very easy to read. The story is compelling and fast paced and the writing flows very well. 2. This book is full of strong female characters, fighting for survival. 3. At times, this book reminded me of Mad Max: Fury Road. 4. This book will give you LITERALLY ZERO ANSWERS TO ALL THE THOUSANDS OF QUESTIONS YOU WILL INEVITABLY HAVE. The gist of the story is that two young women wake up to find that they've been abducted and taken to a farm in rural Australia. Their heads are shaved, they're called sluts and whores constantly, and they're dressed in old fashioned clothes. They're put onto what is effectively a chain gang, given terrible food, and put to work. And what these young women - and the eight others on the chain gang - come to realise is that they've all been involved in some kind of sex scandal (whether assault or consensual) with powerful men. The problem for me, I suspect, is that the blurb compares this book to The Handmaid's Tale. I LOVED The Handmaid's Tale. It provides a scarily plausible dystopian world with a sufficient amount of backstory to help the reader understand WHY society is now the way it is. In contrast, this book provided none of that. No explanations, no answers. Just a bunch of women experiencing extreme misogyny for daring to sleep with powerful men. Sometimes not by choice. I was really hooked by the first half of the story, but as the book progressed and there continued to be no explanation for anything, I found myself increasingly frustrated by the story. And by the time it finally ended - VERY abruptly, I should add - I just didn't really care any more. That said, I suspect it's a book that will stay with me for quite a while. Future musings may adjust my rating. But for now, I'm sticking with 3.5 stars.

  • Michael Livingston
    2019-03-26 14:57

    Oof. Angry, brutal and memorable - I'll be thinking about this one for ages.

  • Lou
    2019-03-31 20:55

    No me ha gustado. Lo comparan con El cuento de la criada, ¡ja!, ya quisiera…nada tiene que ver, salvo que las protagonistas son mujeres pero vamos, para de contar. ¿Distopía feminista? Yo no lo veo, se queda en un vago intento, un quiero y no puedo. Es una buena idea mal ejecutada, un libro lento y aburrido en el que te pasas prácticamente toda la lectura esperando una explicación que nunca llega, al menos no de una forma clara y satisfactoria. El principio promete mucho pero no llega a cumplir las expectativas que genera, ha sido una pérdida de tiempo.