The Natural Way of Things

The Natural Way of Things

Book - 2016
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"A Handmaid's Tale for the 21st century" (Prism Magazine), Wood's dystopian tale about a group of young women held prisoner in the Australian desert is a prescient feminist fable for our times. As the Guardian writes, "contemporary feminism may have found its masterpiece of horror."

Drugged, dressed in old-fashioned rags, and fiending for a cigarette, Yolanda wakes up in a barren room. Verla, a young woman who seems vaguely familiar, sits nearby. Down a hallway echoing loudly with the voices of mysterious men, in a stark compound deep in the Australian outback, other captive women are just coming to. Starved, sedated, the girls can't be sure of anything--except the painful episodes in their pasts that link them.

Drawing strength from the animal instincts they're forced to rely on, the women go from hunted to hunters, along the way becoming unforgettable and boldly original literary heroines that readers will both relate to and root for.

The Natural Way of Things is a lucid and illusory fable and a brilliantly plotted novel of ideas that reminds us of mankind's own vast contradictions--the capacity for savagery, selfishness, resilience, and redemption all contained by a single, vulnerable body.

2016 Stella Prize
2016 Prime Minister's Literary Award in Fiction

An Australian Indie Best Fiction Book & Overall Book of the Year Winner

2017 International Dublin Literary Award
2016 Voss Literary Prize
2016 Victorian Premier's Award
2016 The Miles Franklin Award
Publisher: [New York] :, Europa Editions,, 2016
ISBN: 9781609453626
Branch Call Number: F WOO
Characteristics: 230 pages ; 21 cm


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Jun 13, 2020

Charlotte Wood gifts us with this mesmerizing and horrific allegory about contemporary misogyny. It's harrowing and brutal and a difficult read. The writing is incredible: crisp, vivid, precise, and beautiful. Highly recommended.

Mar 14, 2020

I remember hearing mixed things about this book after it won Australia's Stella Prize a couple of years ago. Ten young women are abducted and brought to an isolated station where they are imprisoned and brutalized. It is never explicitly clear who is in charge or why exactly they have been targeted for abuse. One had an affair, one was sexually promiscuous, another was pretty, etc. I thought this was going to be an allegorical story about beauty, sexuality and objectification of women. About 50% of the way into this book it takes a 90 degree turn and things go a bit bonkers. In the end I wasn't quite sure what Wood's was trying to say.

Jun 12, 2017

A dystopian novel. Although I appreciated the style, setting and overall theme, there was too much that seemed improbable, particularly of a psychological nature.

May 02, 2017

This excellent book is much more than a feminist dystopia that ends in hope. The first third seems like a realistic update of The Handmaid's Tale, one that could be happening in secret today: young women, almost all working-class, at the center of various "sex scandals" (winners of sexual harassment suits, a politician's mistress) are imprisoned and shamed by an incompetent firm in the isolated Australian outback. But then something more complicated happens, as the guards realize they are just as trapped as the prisoners, different women find different means of empowerment, and the reader gradually realizes that the story is a dense and complicated allegory. (The ending is actually quite happy if you understand the allegory, which a couple other reviewers clearly didn't.) I liked that the women sometimes work together in solidarity, and sometimes don't; that they are realistically affected by internalized sexism, reinforced by classism and capitalism; and that the characters change and evolve so much to wind up empowered. It's also amazingly written, and I won't forget the nature imagery or the story of Yolanda, a gang-rape victim, re-claiming her relationship with her body for a long time.

May 01, 2017

The writing style was good and the story had me hooked, but in the end I was disappointed. The subject matter was very unrealistic (I know--it's fiction) and just went a little too far. Hated the ending. Just left me.

Dec 11, 2016

Do not be fooled by the hype. This is not a feminist text and there is no female solidarity.

JCLAmandaW Nov 30, 2016

Dark, detailed and honest, this is not a pretty book. This book looks at topics like sexual assault, victim shaming, harmful beauty standards and double standards in a very grueling and poignant way. There is no "happy ending" here and why should there be? These are issues that are ongoing and very real today without resolution in sight. Exceptionally well written there are times you'll need to turn away for a breath from the graphic descriptions. But again, the book is extremely honest and, I would argue, very important.

Aug 13, 2016

Incredible book for anyone to read, but deep for a feminist or a woman for whom the scales of patriarchy are falling off and revealing a true self.

I would disagree with the Library Journal review. The women were not chosen for sexual sins. The women were chosen because the spoke up about their rape, abuse or their sexual choices. In other words they were not, to quote the book, "keeping their slag mouths shut".

Thinking men might want to read it to as a way of looking into how their behavior toward women is perceived.

Fadz May 07, 2016

Sometimes a book comes along that wins prizes like this one which absolutely does not appeal. This is such a book for me. Don't read this book is you're after something uplifting because this story is ugly, depressing and brutal.

May 04, 2016

Book Club Choice. Memorable. Disturbing. Compelling.

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