Review of The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood: darkly inspiring

This intelligent, multi award winning Australian novel was to me, about embodiment: the natural way female bodies make us feminine, victims, survivors, women, hunted, the hunter.

Written in a compelling dystopian tone, I appreciated the confidence author Charlotte Wood has in the reader to absorb her nuanced exploration of the complexities that make up the “female condition”.

As the book’s blurb suggests, this novel is about misogyny and its effects on women, but I felt it is about much much more. It is about how misogyny interacts with the female form to create gender. By setting the novel in an unspecified barren landscape where women are forced to live a feral lifestyle but only within the camp fenced in by violent electric wire, Wood brings into sharp relief the struggle for power women have always had with their unruly biology, the ways patriarchy tries to control us, the seasons and the natural lay of the land (women’s bodies?)

Reading this novel in two sittings, I felt  guided by the deft skills of a remarkably creative artist. But I also felt she allowed me to roam free in the machinations of my own imagination.

My only regret with this novel is that I read it on Kindle. I wished I had bought the “real” book, so I can share it with others again and again.

The Natural Way of Things won the 2016 Stella Prize, among others. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a mind expanding read.

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood; Publisher: Allen & Unwin; January, 2015