Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Natural Way of Things” as Want to Read:
The Natural Way of Things
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Natural Way of Things

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  8,906 ratings  ·  1,290 reviews
Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in an abandoned property in the middle of a desert in a story of two friends, sisterly love and courage - a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted.

Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how t
...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2015 by Allen & Unwin
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Natural Way of Things, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Bianca Booktopia is an online bookshop and ships all over Australia. I find books to be cheaper through Booktopia.
Kevin I understand it may be a bit much for some readers, but the sort of thing the author is trying to do here, really can't be done "halfway." The…moreI understand it may be a bit much for some readers, but the sort of thing the author is trying to do here, really can't be done "halfway." The brutality and degradation are what give the story its teeth, so to speak. As an allegory, subtlety would simply have gotten in the way.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,906 ratings  ·  1,290 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Elyse Walters
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow!!! Brave....THOUGHT PROVOKING.....an 'unbelievable/unforgettable' reading experience!

Yolanda wakes up in an empty room with no memory of how she got there. Verla, a
young woman who seems familiar, sits nearby.

The girls are sedated and disoriented. They are in a stark compound deep in the Australian Outback....in the middle of nowhere without cell phones or computers. There is however an electrified fence around the entire borders of this horrific compound.

Other captives -girls - are down t
...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Charlotte Wood's fifth novel is a disturbing yet beautiful and thought-provoking exploration into the misogyny lurking beneath Australia's good-natured, laid-back, egalitarian image. It is inspired, in part, by the Hay Institution for Girls, "an offshoot of Parramatta Girls Home that was reserved for the 10 worst offenders in the state in the 1960s and '70s. They were drugged and put on a train to the decommissioned men's prison in south-western NSW, where they were forced to march, look at the ...more
Phrynne
May 30, 2016 rated it liked it
I am on the fence about this book. On the plus side it is well written and I felt compelled to keep reading through to the end. On the minus side though the plot was totally unrealistic and the ending was awful. I have never liked books which do not tell me what happens next - I am the reader not the author so my job is to listen, the author's is to tell. I felt the author let me down on this one.
As for the plot, I felt pretty sure a large group of women in this situation would not have behaved
...more
Trudie
Well, if ever there was a book you should not judge by it's rather beautiful cover it is this one. This book was a relentless, visceral slog. Certainly, as others have said it sits somewhere in the realm of a dystopian Atwood and a female Lord of the Flies. I don't think it is anywhere near as good as either of those books, but obviously I would have settled for much less. This novel however just confused me, bludgeoning me with grim imagery and a sort of overbearing theme of misogyny. I read bl ...more
John Purcell
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Charlotte Wood's latest novel,The Natural Way of Things, seethes with an anger the source of which doesn't seem to be the text itself. Speaking with her, she does admit on reading an early draft to being surprised at discovering this underlying anger in her novel.

Charlotte's last novel, Animal People, sought out the smoothed over hypocrisy of modern life. The sound of muffled laughter accompanied each page.   

The Natural Way of Things is different. Different to her other work in many ways. There
...more
Roger Brunyate
Oh My Gosh!

Did I enjoy this book? No, no way. It was horrible, excruciating, delving deep into degradation, then digging still deeper. But did I admire it? Oh my gosh, yes! From beginning to end, it had an inescapable fascination, beginning as a mystery, then moving into a nightmare where humans become as animals, then wresting strength from the depths and rising to moments of sheer magnificence. I still don't understand it, but know I have never read anything quite like it. Even though I alread
...more
Brenda
Nineteen year old Yolanda Kovacs woke to uncertainty and strangeness. Dressed in an old fashioned and scratchy nightgown - unable to remember how she got wherever she was; why she was there and who had put her there. In another room Verla had also woken; confused, disorientated, drugged – she sat on a chair and waited. When Yolanda was brought to Verla’s room, their thoughts consumed them but they didn’t speak; when the door opened and the man said “Who wants to go first?” their fear was palpabl ...more
Allyce Cameron
Sep 22, 2015 rated it liked it
What did I just read?!

That was the first thing that popped into my head as I turned the final page and placed the book onto my bedside table.

Ok, so it's undeniably well written. Descriptive but still really down to earth and relatively easy to read. On the surface it's about a group of women who wake up in the middle of the outback after a "sexual scandal" with a powerful man and are being held captive. Now, when I read the back I was under the impression that they were mistresses who had been
...more
Suzanne
May 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
I owned this book but ended up giving it to a friend as a gift before I read it. I kept seeing the book on the shelf at work, in fact it's a reserve item, therefore necessary reading for a course. I need to look more into this as I am very curious as to what it is being taught for and why. A student that I see all the time recommended it to me, so when he returned the item I loaned it to myself then and there.

I have never read this author before. The blurb states a friendship as being an integr
...more
Hugh
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2017
I have decidedly mixed feelings about this book. I think it was a mistake to sell it as a dystopian fantasy - there is nothing in it that requires any imaginative leaps, but instead we have a moving and well written story set in what is almost the real modern Australia.

The plot centres on two young women Yolanda and Verla, who wake up from a drug-induced sleep in a bleak prison camp in rural Australia where their heads are shaved, they are forced to wear bonnets that restrict their vision and un
...more
PattyMacDotComma
4★
It’s 5-star writing but I disliked the story too much to rate it any higher. In fact, I ended up skimming the last part of the book because I didn’t care what further atrocities befell the women, whether or not they 'deserved' it.

Young women wake up in a desert compound, apparently recovering from being drugged. All appear to have had some notoriety or fame because of affairs or loose behaviour, and they’re now being punished and treated like prisoners.

They wake up alone, terrified, and are co
...more
Michael
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ten young women wake up in what can only be described as hell. With their heads shaven, they are taken to an isolated area that is surrounded by an electrified fence. For what seems like a never ending time, they are forced to live in conditions not even fit enough for animals. Their only sin it seems that connects them all is their transgression's with powerful men. Told through the experiences of two of these women (Yolanda and Verla), we see as they are stripped of their freedom and every sen ...more
Jill
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2016
Wow! Allow me a minute to decompress after one of the most harrowing and visceral reading I’ve experienced in a long time. Think: Lord of the Flies. Think: A Handmaid’s Tale. And then ratchet up the horror by a few degrees.

At the start of the novel, we become aware that 10 young women have been drugged and abducted to a desolate Australian outback, contained within a 30-foot electric fence and supervised by two brutal male guards. What do they have in common? It doesn’t take them long to figure
...more
Bianca
This novel has been lauded left, right and centre, so I felt a bit of pressure to go ga-ga over it.

But I can't and I won't.

It was far from terrible, but as far as I am concerned it didn't blow my mind away, and worst of all, it didn't touch me on an emotional level, and I have a big problem with this, especially when it's supposed to be a dystopian novel, with misogynism at its core. I consider myself a staunch feminist, so I am perplexed by my apathy, especially given how easily I get fired up.
...more
Kathy
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
I’m feeling bad that I cannot give this book a higher rating but I really did not connect with it at all. Great literary writing but not my idea of a good read. The strength of the women was all I really got from it……and I just feel confused. It’s harrowing, brutal and that’s about it……sorry I cannot give it more.
Britta Böhler
I wonder why this book wasn't on the Manbooker longlist this year. Too angry maybe? Because it is an angry book. And political.
The anger and the politics are wrapped skillfully in a dark and often confrontational tale, a parable really, about how we perceive and mistreat female victims of sexual harrassment or sexual scandals, in particular if the men involved hold positions of power, politically or economically. And with "we" I mean men and women, because the ten women in the book - who are kep
...more
Trav
Jul 23, 2016 rated it liked it
2.5 stars. The first 100 or so pages I absolutely devoured this book, by the middle my interest began to wane and by the end of it I was hate reading. So, what went wrong?

The Natural Way of Things is a dystopian novel about the horrors of misogyny, reminiscent of both The Handmaid's Tale and Lord of the Flies. Woods' prose is both lyrical and captivating yet ferociously visceral. There's a lot of anger in her writing, to the point where it's almost pure unadulterated hatred. The anger seems to r
...more
Warwick
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, australia
Pitched by most reviewers, inevitably, as like ‘The Handmaid's Tale in the Outback’, this is an engaging feminist paranoid fantasy about male violence and control, quick to read and more nuanced than it initially appears. It starts in medias res and we have to piece things together as we go; which is fun, but Wood never quite delivers on the intriguing set-up, and it's not even really clear what exactly we're being asked to believe has happened, let alone how believable that might be. But watchi ...more
Carina
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Bloody hell. Calmly and naturally horrific, with tones of Attwood.
Vivian
Oct 08, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1/11/2016: Lol changed my mind, bumping it down to 1.5
........................................................................

Super disappointed.
Sped through the first 100 or so pages and was super intrigued by the premise but then nothing was happening?!? I was just sitting there waiting for something, anything to happen but nothing did. I don't mind books that are slow but I need to care about the characters at least and I didn't in this case. The writing was also more on the overly descripti
...more
Elaine
All my friends who read and reviewed this book rated it 4 stars or more. I'm not quite sure what it was about it but for me this was barely a 3 star read. Whilst very well written and the descriptions of the women who were imprisoned and their surrounds perfectly related, I just struggled to become invested. Some of the descriptions were so quintessentially Australian and this was one of the highlights. Gritty and confronting, it was just too much for me to take in and I just didn't find it comp ...more
Lualunera
Sep 20, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Para mí esto no entra en la categoría de libro “feminista”. Además he pasado la novela con ganas de vomitar en cada página. Y soy capaz de leer sobre cosas horribles, oscuras y asquerosas (de hecho me gusta hacerlo, llamadme masoquista) pero, ¿de verdad eran necesarias tantísimas y tantísimas Y TANTÍSIMAS escenas de maltrato animal? Entiendo que forma parte del mensaje, de ese lado salvaje del ser humano que quiere transmitir la autora, de la destrucción de estas mujeres y su “renacer” como anim ...more
Book Riot Community
This book tells the story of a group of girls whose only link is that they were all part of a sex-related scandal that made headlines. They had affairs. They were sexually harassed and/or assaulted by their employers or people in positions of authority. And, one morning, they wake up on a run-down sheep station. Their heads are shaved, they are given old-fashioned, highly uncomfortable clothing, and they’re forced into a life of servitude. They don’t know why. They don’t know how. And they don’t ...more
Michael Robotham
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This award-winning, dystopian tale, has some wonderfully descriptive writing, but left me wanting so much more. I found elements quite repetitive and ultimately too many questions left unanswered. I love challenging books that require the reader to fill in the blanks, but this can go too far. In particular, I wanted to learn more about the back story of the 'fallen' women in the story. I wanted to read more of how their lives were destroyed by misogyny and the media. I wanted to get angry.
The e
...more
Mary
Apr 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Would it be said, they 'disappeared', 'were lost'? Would it be said they were abandoned or taken, 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. They lured abduction and abandonment to themselves, they marshaled themselves into this prison where they had made their beds, and now, once more, were lying in them.
Lotte
3.5/5.
An angry and downright brutal book that offers lots of food for thought. Ultimately however, the story, paired with the eerily beautiful, yet sometimes weirdly cruel writing style, was just way too violent and the atmosphere too bleak and depressing for me to actually enjoy the process of reading this book. And this is coming from someone who usually loves that kind of stuff in fiction. I also feel like there were quite a few parts that could've been shortened, because the story dragged a
...more
Vanessa
Sep 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: aussie
A vey dark twisted story written with a vivid narrative unlike anything I've read before will stick with me for awhile. I only wish there was more of a back story as it was only given in snippets, it felt abit disjointed for me at times and I was left wanting more. This book left me with more questions than answers and left me hanging at the end, it felt abit rushed and incomplete
Shawn Mooney
Oh my god what an inferior piece of garbage. Doesn’t hold a candle to the novels it was obviously trying to emulate: Lord of The Flies, The Handmaid’s Tale, etc. It did start out strong, and the writing on the sentence level was often quite good. But flimsy characterization and an infuriatingly ridiculous premise ruined it utterly. It was nonsensical that a group of ten or so young women would allow themselves to be controlled and abused by a trio of pathetic, idiotic captors wielding a grand to ...more
Leah Bayer
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: survival
What would people in their old lives be saying about these girls? Would they be called missing? Would some documentary program on the ABC that nobody watched, or one of those thin newspapers nobody read, somehow connect their cases, find the thread to make them a story? The Lost Girls, they could be called. Would it be said, they 'disappeared', 'were lost'? Would it be said they were abandoned or taken, the way people say a girl was attacked, a woman was raped, this femaleness always at the cent ...more
K.
3.5 stars. I think...

My initial reaction when I finished this book was simple: "The fuck did I just read?"

Ten hours later, my thoughts haven't changed that much. In short:
1. This book is very easy to read. The story is compelling and fast paced and the writing flows very well.
2. This book is full of strong female characters, fighting for survival.
3. At times, this book reminded me of Mad Max: Fury Road.
4. This book will give you LITERALLY ZERO ANSWERS TO ALL THE THOUSANDS OF QUESTIONS YOU W
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Stella Project: The Natural Way of Things 1 3 18 hours, 38 min ago  
Disturbing 4 78 Oct 20, 2015 08:13PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Watch Tower
  • An Isolated Incident
  • Grand Days
  • From the Wreck
  • Blood
  • Clade
  • Black Rock White City
  • Floundering
  • Six Bedrooms
  • The Fictional Woman
  • The Light on the Water
  • Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport
  • Golden Boys
  • The Last Garden
  • The Paper House
  • Moral Panic 101: Equality, Acceptance and the Safe Schools Scandal (Quarterly Essay #67)
  • Coal Creek
  • Their Brilliant Careers: The Fantastic Lives of Sixteen Extraordinary Australian Writers
See similar books…
252 followers
The Australian newspaper has described Charlotte Wood as "one of our most original and provocative writers.”

She is the author of five novels and a book of non-fiction. Her latest novel, The Natural Way of Things, won the 2016 Indie Book of the Year and Indie Fiction Book of the Year prizes, was shortlisted for the Stella Prize and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, and longlisted for the Mil
...more
“What would people in their old lives be saying about these girls? Would they be called missing? Would some documentary program on the ABC that nobody watched, or one of those thin newspapers nobody read, somehow connect their cases, find the thread to make them a story? The Lost Girls, they could be called. Would it be said, they 'disappeared', 'were lost'? Would it be said that they were abandoned or taken, 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. They lured abduction and abandonment to themselves, they marshalled themselves into this prison where they had made their beds, and now, once more, were lying in them.” 5 likes
More quotes…