The natural way of things

Charlotte Wood, 1965-

Book - 2016

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Subjects
Genres
Suspense fiction
Published
New York, N.Y. : Europa Editions 2016.
Language
English
Physical Description
230 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN
9781609453626
160945362X
Main Author
Charlotte Wood, 1965- (author)
Review by Library Journal Reviews

In an utterly remote and barren part of Australia, ten young women are starved, sedated, dressed in outlandish Puritanical garb, and led about like dogs. Yolanda can't even remember how she got there, but it soon emerges that they are all being punished for past sexual sins. Making her U.S. debut with a novel that won the Australian Independent Booksellers Award as Best Novel and Best Book of the Year, 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. VERDICT A shocking and vital work for all readers. [Page 84]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

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. (June) [Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of a desert. Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how they came to be there with eight other girls....In each girl's pastis a sexual scandal with a powerful man. 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."--Author's website.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Confined to a stark compound in the Australian Outback, Yolanda and Veria forge a bond, powerful enough to bring down the senseless system that brought them there.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“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. Winner2016 Stella Prize2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Award in FictionAn Australian Indie Best Fiction Book & Overall Book of the Year WinnerFinalist2017 International Dublin Literary Award2016 Voss Literary Prize2016 Victorian Premier's Award2016 The Miles Franklin Award

Review by Publisher Summary 4

“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. 

Winner
2016 Stella Prize
2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Award in Fiction

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

Finalist
2017 International Dublin Literary Award
2016 Voss Literary Prize
2016 Victorian Premier's Award
2016 The Miles Franklin Award

Review by Publisher Summary 5

'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. Winner2016 Stella Prize2016 Prime Minister's Literary Award in FictionAn Australian Indie Best Fiction Book & Overall Book of the Year WinnerFinalist2017 International Dublin Literary Award2016 Voss Literary Prize2016 Victorian Premier's Award2016 The Miles Franklin Award