Book Review: The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

I have a copy of this in my shop and I’ve always glanced at it and thought ‘looks interesting…’ and moved on to other things, but a new library just opened up and they let you borrow up to 20 books at a time so I went a little nuts in there (annoyed they didn’t have a copy of Extinctions coz I’m DYING to read it) and this was the first one I opened to read, in the driveway line at red rooster no less.

What a fucking trip!

It’s the story of Yolanda, who wakes up one morning in the middle of nowhere in a calico smock with two brutal men in charge of her every action. It’s the story of Verla, who swears she out of all the girls will be rescued, most definitely, even as summer fades and the days turn into months. It’s the story of what people will turn to in order to survive.
It’s a super well written book – you never find out where the girls are kept, it’s just ‘somewhere in the outback’- or who they are being kept by, and it honestly doesn’t matter. They are there because they have all been participants (willing or unwilling) in high profile sex crime cases, and it is subtly pressed upon you that all were tricked into agreeing to be there, all except Yolanda, who struggled and will continue to struggle.

The girls, shaven and dirty, are forced into manual labour by the leering Boncer and his hippy companion, Teddy, fed food from rancid plates, beaten and forced to sleep in cells until it becomes clear that they all – 10 girls, Teddy and Boncer, and Nancy, the drug-addled nurse also on the payroll – are all stuck behind the electrified fence of the compound, and the food is running out. What deals will be wheedled, what strengths found and above all (as winter sets in) what will they eat? And will they ever get out?

It’s a story both painful and eerie to read, and i imagine several themes (sexual abuse, madness, suicide) would be very triggering to some peeps, but it’s an awesome imagining of a scenario that could happen, and is well worth the read.

4/5 stars

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