The Natural Way of Things
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
WINNER OF THE 2016 STELLA PRIZE, THE AUSTRALIAN INDIE BEST FICTION BOOK AND OVERALL BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS
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.
VICTORIAN PREMIER'S AWARD
THE MILES FRANKLIN AWARD
Praise for The Natural Way of Things ‘There are so many layers at play in Charlotte Wood’s extraordinary new novel, The Natural Way of Things, and around its taut and razor-sharp nightmare is the implicit awfulness of everything not quite said, not quite presented, not quite explained. 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
eyes, nodding. ‘There’s a river. And my horse, that will come for us and carry us out.’ Yolanda gives a small soft smile which means you poor mad thing, and says, ‘Maybe you better go back to sleep now.’ Yolanda can’t believe her. It doesn’t matter. For the second time since she arrived here her hand reaches out for Verla’s and grips it, gently this time. She is stronger than me. The two girls sit together, hands clasped on the thin grey bedspread in the grim afternoon light. Beyond the room
floor of her dogbox, the fullness of her pouch swelling below, Yolanda pulled out the pile of skins, and made a little nest. Then, lowering herself so they had no distance to fall, she quietly untied the skins from her body, unbuttoned her tunic and let them fall, squirming, to the furred nest. The mother rabbit fell, a soft thud. The dark bulbous babies fell, plop slip. They did not squirm. Yolanda waited. They were all asleep. She scooped them together, the fat little wrigglers that did not
next to Yolanda, forehead shining with sweat, her gaze on the stick, began to swing her arms, marching on the spot. She knew what to do. As if she were leading a bunch of soldiers, not girls. Out of her small body came a scrawny little voice, crying: ‘Left, left, left-right-left.’ Leading a—a battalion, her arms swinging high. ‘Ooh, yes!’ cried Boncer, skipping to her side. ‘That’s the way, ladies! Follow the army slut! You next, village idiot!’ He leaped along the line, clipping the girls’
Did it still exist? Would it receive them? Who would be waiting? They had no idea how long they had been here. None of this they spoke aloud, but as they trailed through the house freely now—lost, soon to be rescued—gradually they found themselves returning to their rituals: Leandra at the stove, Maitlynd clucking to her frog, Barbs with her stockpot. Rhiannon crossing the paddocks to clamber once more into her skeleton ute. Yolanda had never stopped roaming the paddocks, and barely came near