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The Natural Way of Things

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Description

Joint winner of the Prime Minister's Literary Awards 2016 - Fiction category Winner of the 2016 Stella Prize

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.'

Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of nowhere. 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.

The Natural Way of Things is a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted. Most of all, it is the story of two friends, their sisterly love and courage.

With extraordinary echoes of The Handmaid's Tale and Lord of the Flies, The Natural Way of Things is a compulsively readable, scarifying and deeply moving contemporary novel. It confirms Charlotte Wood's position as one of our most thoughtful, provocative and fearless truth-tellers, as she unflinchingly reveals us and our world to ourselves.

'As a man, to read it is as unsettling as receiving one piece of bad news after another. It is confronting. Yet anyone who reads it, man or woman, is going to be left with a sense that a long-hidden truth has been revealed to them. The Natural Way of Things is a brave, brilliant book. I would defy anyone to read it and not come out a changed person.' Malcolm Knox, author of The Wonder Lover

'This is a stunning exploration of ambiguities - of power, of morality, of judgment. With a fearless clarity, Wood's elegantly spare and brutal prose dissects humanity, hatreds, our ambivalent capacities for friendship and betrayal, and the powerful appearance - always - of moments of grace and great beauty. The book's ending undid me through the shape of the world it reveals as much as its revisions of escape and survival. It will not leave you easily; it took my breath away.' Ashley Hay, author of The Railwayman's Wife

From Publishers Weekly

06 June 2016 – The latest from Australian novelist Wood (Animal People) is allegory at its best, a phantasmagoric portrait of modern culture's sexual politics textured by psychological realism and sparing lyricism. The unsettling opening launches readers into a nightmare. A group of drugged women wake up in a remote, dilapidated compound whose wild grounds are surrounded by an electrified fence. They are sheared and leashed and marched and beaten. "You need to know what you are," one of the guards tells them. As glancing references to their former lives indicate, each of the "bald and frightened girls" was at the center of a public scandal involving powerful men: sports stars, politicians, television hosts, religious leaders. Their horrid, punishing captivity is also marked by an eerie normality. One of their captors checks his online dating profile; another does morning yoga. The women form tenuous bonds over their extended detention, but they have also internalized the culture's sexist attitudes the "dull fear and hatred" of the female body and thus their sisterhood is occasionally riven by suspicion and scorn. Distinguishing themselves from the group are two fierce, introspective protagonists, Yolanda and Verla, who scour the land for game and mushrooms and reject the path of "trailing, limping obedience." Despite its overt message, the novel seldom feels programmatic because of Wood's gorgeous, elliptical style.

Customer Reviews

More! More! More!

Definitely a page turner! A mesmerising feminist Lord of the Flies type story that has you questioning and wondering how 10 girls (with shady sexual pasts) have ended up imprisoned and heads shorn in the middle of the outback and why? Even the end has you wanting more! Themes include friendship, betrayal, loyalty, misogyny, morality and power.

Interesting story

Strange story, but interesting to the end. A group of women taken to an outpost in the desert, treated badly but learned a lot of life lessons and a lot about themselves.

Absolutely Unique

A completely original idea; brutal, unflinching, hallucinatory and animalistic. Vividly cinematic and dystopian, this book is compelling and absolutely unique.

I don't wish to spoil by revealing plot points but this particularly female story of bare bones survival is brilliantly conceived and executed.

The Natural Way of Things
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: 23 September 2015
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • Seller: Allen & Unwin Pty Limited
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings