Welcome to this week’s Friday 56, where we are taking a look at Charlotte Wood’s Stella Prize-winning novel The Natural Way of Things.
In The Natural Way of Things, two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of nowhere.
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.
The Natural Way of Things is a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted. Most of all, it is the story of two friends, their sisterly love and courage.
A quote from page 56:
I found The Natural Way of Things to be a really confronting and engaging novel. My full review can be found here.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?