Natural Way of Things (Charlotte Wood)

Natural Way of Things

In short: A challenging read which left me feeling more than a little grey.

If I’m honest, I really struggled to read and to write my thoughts, due to the enormity and complexity of the themes. It is an extremely hard hitting and dark book and I feel I simply cannot do it justice in a short space. I’ll do my best to give you a brief synopsis but this is definitely a challenging work which requires a big investment of time and head space. I definitely came away feeling a little changed after each reading session. It’s a serious work not to be entered into lightly!

Summary: Two girls find themselves the prisoners of two men in an abandoned farm (deep in the heart of outback Australia), where they, along with 8 other girls also held prisoner, are stripped of their clothes, hair and all of their distinguishing belongings. They discover they have all been involved in some form of a scandalous past relationship. With no real light at the end of the tunnel to signal the end of their captivity aside from a mysterious visitor that their captors intimate will arrive soon, the girls are forced to rely on each other to survive – despite their dwindling hope of rescue. Their containment within the electric fence that borders the entire property compels them to act as hunters, gatherers and emotional support to each other as the seriousness of their situation and the fact they are genuinely along becomes abundantly clear as their food deliveries cease.

Highlights (challenging given the dark tone of the narrative): 

  • Watching how the girls react and evolve to attempt to deal with their situation, including regressing to childhood and returning to almost primitive hunter traits.
  • Seeing the development of each of the girls survival instincts and coping mechanisms.

Themes:

  • Feminism, feminism, feminism
  • Male dominance
  • Regrets
  • Independence and overcoming challenges