The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

1. Published by Allen and Unwin 2015 2. First lines 4. Amanita muscaria By JJ Harrison [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia 5. Pisanello drawing [Public Domain] via Wikimedia 6. Woman’s face Licence: [Free to use. No attribution required.]

This is dark. With its raw descriptions  and distressing themes, this will be a book you will either love or hate.” 

Plot summary: A group of women are held against their will, and cruelly treated. The mysogonistic reason for it is clear, but the objective (alluded to by the supposed arrival of Hardings) is never stated.

Quotes from the book:  “… the way people said a girl was attacked, a woman was raped, this femaleness always at the centre, as if womanhood itself were the cause of these things? As if the girls somehow, through the natural way of things, did it to themselves.” p. 176

“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.” p. 18

  • Reviews
    • “Wood used American artist Louise Bourgeois, creator of (among other things) sculptures of female forms, and dresses hanging inside cages as inspiration when writing this book to “subconsciously create without trying to understand its meaning”. Read more at Sydney Morning Herald
    • “Charlotte Wood’s confronting story of misogyny is both shockingly realist in its details and deeply allegorical in its shape. Judge’s comment: Miles Franklin Award 2016
    • The Natural Way of Things forces us to confront grim truths in the way of the best literature, taking us into tough terrains calmly and boldly, setting everything out, inviting us to follow and learn.” Full review Griffith Review

Adaptation: This novel is being adapted into film. Refer to The Natural Way of Things Film Update (April 2020) No news yet on when this movie will be made.

Reading Group Notes (PDF)Reading-group-notes-Natural-Way-of-Things

Extract (PDF): The Natural Way of Things Charlotte Wood-Extract 2

Notable Awards


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