The Natural Way of Things

Charlotte Wood

RRP: £8.99

5 January 2017

Published by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760291914

RRP: £12.99

2 June 2016

Published by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760291877

RRP: £5.99

1 January 2017

Published by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781925268614

Winner of the Stella Prize and the Best Fiction and Overall Book of the Year at the Independent Bookseller Awards
Shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award

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.’

Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of a desert. Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how they came to be there with eight other girls, forced to wear strange uniforms, their heads shaved, guarded by two inept yet vicious armed jailers and a ‘nurse’. The girls all have something in common, but what is it? What crime has brought them here from the city? Who is the mysterious security company responsible for this desolate place with its brutal rules, its total isolation from the contemporary world?

Doing hard labour under a sweltering sun, the prisoners soon learn what links them: in each girl’s past is a sexual scandal with a powerful man. They pray for rescue – but when the food starts running out it becomes clear that the jailers have also become the jailed. The girls can only rescue themselves.


This is not psychological fiction but a horror parable; a portrait not of people, but of tendencies. Seen as mythical archetypes, the characters are only too frighteningly real...The Natural Way of Things is chillingly dark and unfashionably didactic. But it's also compulsively readable, and bears its load of significance with effortless power. The fury of contemporary feminism may have found its masterpiece of horror.

A haunting parable of contemporary misogyny...Ms Wood's writing is direct and spare, yet capable of bursting with unexpected beauty.

This is an extraordinary novel: inspired, powerful, at once coherent and dreamlike.
Sydney Morning Herald, Best Books of 2015

A confronting and blazing read... A novel to provoke thought, conversation, disgust, anger and concern, a work that will haunt the reader with its poetry and the stark truths buried within Wood's brilliant exploration of a toxic culture in extremis.
Weekend Australian

A virtuoso performance, plotted deftly through a minefield of potential traps, weighted with allegory yet swift and sure in its narrative advance.Rosemary Sorensen
Sydney Review of Books

A dystopian fable, both gripping and lyrical.
The Saturday Age, Best Books of 2015

A moving, mesmerising and brilliantly topical interrogation of misogyny that demands to be read at a sitting.
Adelaide Advertiser

Bold, provocative, startling and insightful, The Natural Way of Things is what fiction should be.
The Newtown Review of Books

[A] Confronting, confounding novel of mysteriously kidnapped and imprisoned women.
The Australian, Best Books of 2015

The kind of book you inhale in a sitting... Stark prose and unrelenting pace.
The Saturday Paper, Best Books of 2015

How each character copes with their unusual incarceration is fascinating. The language is beautiful... Charlotte Wood's is a unique, original voice that soothes and shocks in equal measures in this pitch-perfect dystopian nightmare.
Townsville Bulletin

Exposing the threads of misogyny, cowardice and abuses of power embedded in contemporary society, this is a confronting, sometimes deeply painful novel to read. With an unflinching eye and audacious imagination, Charlotte Wood carries us from a nightmare of helplessness and despair to a fantasy of revenge and reckoning.