What have you done Charlotte Wood? You have made Golding’s Lord of the Flies for this century and you have made it so very thrilling and real.
Verla wakes from a drugged sleep. She doesn’t know where she is, nor why she’s there. Another woman is thrust into the room – Yolanda. Verla and Yolanda are two of ten women who find themselves in the middle of the desert. Their heads are soon shaved and they are clothed in coarse, modest but completely impractical skirts.
The dread begins from the first scenes and Wood never lets up. The girls are always on guard, and so are we.
The women are jailed in a compound in outback Australia, surrounded by an electric fence powerful enough to kill. One evening the electricity at the compound goes off. The food begins to run out. Things were already bad and they are about to get worse.
There is nothing about this book that is predictable. Wood keeps us guessing and second guessing at every turn. It is exquisite, the sort of book where you need to remind yourself to breathe. Do not be fooled by the beautiful cover of the book. Wood’s story is ugly, ugly, ugly. It is the very worst of ourselves.
The book won the 2016 Stella Award (Australia’s top award for Women’s Literature) and is shortlisted for Australia’s most prestigious award, the Miles Franklin Award.
Alisa Piper gives the characters a powerful Aussie twang, perfectly suited to the women (and men) Wood has written. Piper draws you in quickly and performs the voices of each character superbly.
The Natural Way of Things • by Charlotte Wood • read by Alisa Piper • 7 hours • published by Wavesound Audio • August, 2016 • ISBN 9781510037496