The Natural Way of Things Summary and Reviews

The Natural Way of Things

by Charlotte Wood

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood X
The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
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Book Summary

The Natural Way of Things is at once lucid and illusory, 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. This gripping, provocative, and timely book will resonate with its readers for many years.

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.

Charlotte Wood depicts a world where a woman's sexuality has become a weapon turned against her. The characters, each marked by their own public scandal, are silenced and shackled by a cruel system of corporate control and misogyny. In a Kafkaesque drag of days marked only by the increasing strangeness of their predicament, the fraught, surreal, and fierce reality of inhabiting a female body becomes frighteningly vivid.

But it's in the very bind of this senseless system that Yolanda and Verla discover their ability to forge a bond powerful enough to bring it down. Drawing strength from the animal instincts they're forced to rely on, the girls go from hunted to hunters, along the way becoming unforgettable and boldly original literary heroines that readers will both relate to and root for.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Winner of the 2016 Stella prize

The Australian Indie Best Fiction Book and overall Book of the Year awards

Finalist Victorian Premier's Award

Long-Listed, The Miles Franklin Award

"Starred Review. Wood effectively renders the captors' brutality and the women's Lord-of-the-Flies struggle to survive. But it's the eventual bonding (particularly between Yolanda and the somehow familiar Verla) that is the novel's triumph." - Library Journal

"An absorbing plot, lyrical prose, and discomfiting imagery makes Wood's novel decidedly gripping." - Kirkus

"Despite its overt message, the novel seldom feels programmatic because of Wood's gorgeous, elliptical style." - Publishers Weekly

"The Natural Way of Things is an extraordinary novel: inspired, powerful, at once coherent and dreamlike." - The Sydney Morning Herald

"It's rare to pick up a novel and from the opening pages be not only gripped by the story on the page but also by the keenness of the intelligence and audacity of the imagination at work." - The Weekend Australian

"A modern-day fable of rural gothic dystopia. Think Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter and chuck in a dose of Mad Max's avenging angel Furiosa and you get the idea." - Caroline Baum, Anne Summers Reports

"As allegory, as a novel, as vision and as art The Natural Way of Things is stunning." - Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap

"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

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Author Information

Charlotte Wood

Charlotte Wood is the author of five novels and one book of non-fiction. She has been described as one of Australia's "most original and provocative writers." Her novels have been shortlisted for many prizes, including the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and the regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

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