The natural way of things
By Charlotte Wood
“ This is a visceral, disturbing, and thought provoking book which will leave you questioning today’s society and its tendency to blame the victims of sexual abuse and misogyny for their mistreatment. ”
Ten young women have been rounded up for crimes which are only hinted at, but relate to behaviour labelled as lascivious or sluttonly. It is unclear whether it is a puritanical society that is punishing them, or individual men whom they have embarrassed or inconvenienced. The women are bundled into vehicles in the dead of night and driven to an isolated homestead turned prison in the desert. The grounds are surrounded by a high, electrocuted fence and there are two male guards who are untrained and uninformed.
The women and their guards expect their sentences to come to an end, but as the food begins to run low it slowly dawns on them that no-one is coming to get them. The strongest girl in the group finds some rabbit traps and becomes proficient enough at hunting to feed them all, shifting the balance of power and prompting the guards to descend into depravity and cruelty as they lose their authority. The womens’ daily existence becomes one presided over by filth, fear, hunger and boredom, but when rescue finally comes the reader is left wondering if they will really be better off.
This is a visceral, disturbing, and thought provoking book which will leave you questioning today’s society and its tendency to blame the victims of sexual abuse and misogyny for their mistreatment.
Reviewed by Ms Michelle Sweeney