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The Natural Way of Things

by Charlotte Wood

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 a desert. 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…

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.

#47 in Australia’s Top 100 2016



About Charlotte Wood

Charlotte Wood has been described as "one of our most original and provocative writers.” (The Australian). Her fifth novel, The Natural Way of Things, was published in September 2015.  Her previous novel, Animal People, won the People's Choice medal in the 2013 NSW Premier's Literary Awards, was shortlisted for the 2013 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction and longlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Her earlier novels were also shortlisted for various prizes, including the Miles Franklin Award and regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.  Her non-fiction book is an essay collection, Love & Hunger: Thoughts on the Gift of Food. Charlotte is also editor of The Writer's Room Interviews, a bimonthly digital magazine of conversations with Australian authors, and in 2009 edited a collection of short stories about siblings by some of Australia's finest writers, called Brothers & Sisters. In 2014 she was appointed Chair of Arts Practice, Literature, at the Australia Council for the Arts.  Charlotte writes an occasional blog 'on reading, writing and living' at www.howtoshuckanoyster.com, and lives in Sydney with her husband.

Other books by Charlotte Wood



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