#AWW2017 “What would people in their old lives be saying about these girls? Would they be called missing?” // Review of “The Natural Way of Things” by Charlotte Wood

Title: The Natural Way of Things
Author: Charlotte Wood
Genre: Thriller
Date Read: 05/01/2017 – 06/01/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:


What a difficult book to review. While I wouldn’t say it was “hyped” to me, it certainly came highly recommended,  which I think resulted in some unrealistic expectations of what I was in for.

Ten women wake up on a property in the Australian outback surrounded by a giant electric fence, and as time wears on, they find themselves prisoners of two inept gaolers and a young woman playing at being a nurse .As hope of rescue dwindles along with their food supply, and it becomes clear that even their captors did not know what they were in for, the girls find they must take power into their own hands.

The writing in this book is very good. It’s mentioned in the official blurb and therefore not a spoiler to say that the common link between all the women in this book is that they were all involved in high profile sex scandals, and underneath the writing, there is a simmering anger at the misogyny and rape culture rife in today’s society. The anger is very measured, but it is always there, much like the anger many of us experience at these same issues.

The main reason I couldn’t rate this any higher was because I felt there were too many loose ends. I needed more information about the alleged security company that had set up the prison, and how the women ended up there. There is an implication that they were coersed and that other people in their old lives knew what was going to happen to them, but this is never really cleared up (probably a deliberate choice by the author, but one I couldn’t really get into). There was also no real explanation of who was running the whole joint. Why had they simply abandoned these women with incapable supervisers and dwindling supplies?

I gather the ending is rather divisive, some reviewers seem to think it was perfect, others that it was unsatisfying. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter camp. I was left just thinking, “Oh, come on!”

I also would have liked to know more about the scandals that happened to each girl. In most cases, small morsels of detail were often dangled in front of my nose, but I never really felt like I knew enough about them to really appreciate their plight. That sounds callous, as I should be appreciating their plight regardless of the details of what happened to them. I imagine this might have been the point, but there it is.

Sometimes with books like this, I feel there might be deeper meanings, more subtle or metaphorical, that I didn’t truly “get”. I’m a pretty literal reader; I take things at face value. This is probably also reflected in my enjoyment and rating of this book. Those who can find that deeper level will probably have a higher appreciation for it.


This review forms part of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge for 2017. Click here for more information.

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