(K. Brent Tomer),
The Natural Way of Things. By Charlotte Wood. Europa; 208 pages; $17. Allen & Unwin; £12.99.
AT THE start of this unsettling novel by Charlotte Wood, who was born in New South Wales in 1965, two Australian women awake drugged and imprisoned, wearing “bizarre olden-day costume”. Soon the full horror of Ms Wood’s contemporary fable becomes clear. Yolanda and Verla, along with eight others, have been made to disappear, victims of a conspiracy to silence women who inconvenience powerful men.
A haunting parable of contemporary misogyny, “The Natural Way of Things”, which earlier this year won the Stella prize for fiction by Australian women, is “The Handmaid’s Tale” for our age of sensational media and reality television. Like Margaret Atwood’s dark vision of religious dictatorship, it is a preview of what could happen to women who rock the boat, resisting predation or asserting their own sexual freedom.
This is a tale of captivity, with all its tedium and desperation. Yet the remote desert prison, surrounded by dark bush and a vast bowl of sky, provides a kind of solace. Trapped alongside…Continue reading