The Natural Way of ThingsBy Charlotte Wood
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.