The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood is unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
The story begins with two women, Verla & Yolande, who wake from a drug-hazed stupor to find they have been kidnapped and transported to the middle of outback Australia. Who has captured them & why isn’t exactly clear but they do know they are being punished for something. Their time at the compound is spent suffering in the blistering Australian sun, enduring physical and mental starvation, being forced to work hard labour and after a long days work they are treated like dogs as they retreat into their individual kennels to sleep and lick their wounds.
Over time, the women start to make alliances with one another to discover why they have each been plucked from their reality and held captive in the middle of nowhere. The link between them all comes to light when they realise they’ve all been involved in a sexual scandal and have spoken out about it publicly. But who is behind their imprisonment? And why are they being punished when they’re the victims?
Thought-provoking yet repugnant in its brutality, The Natural Way of Things is a novel that highlights the lengths people will go to in desperate situations and how, in the end, we humans are just animals in a race of survival.