Review: The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

9781760292010The Weekend is a perfectly balanced encapsulation of the human condition, its melancholy truths set to a delightful melody only Charlotte Wood — one of our greatest writers — could devise.

It charts the complex, resilient relationship between three friends, all in their seventies, who’ve just lost a member of their quartet. The sudden death of Sylvie brings Jude (former restaurateur), Wendy (acclaimed public intellectual) and Adele (once renowned, now out-of-work actress) to Sylvie’s isolated beach house over the Christmas weekend to purge the home. But the passing of Sylvie has destabilised the bond between these women; rocked the very foundations of their lifelong friendship. As the trio handle their personal grief, it quickly becomes clear Sylvie was vital to the group’s equilibrium, and they’ll have to re calibrate as a trio in order to retain what they once held so close.

Charlotte Wood’s ability to render complex emotions with incredible lucidity and sympathetic intelligence is exceptional. The Weekend is sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes joyous, and never anything less than sharply poignant and true. It’s a book that has lingered in my memory, and alongside the new Strout, Patchett and Parrett, ranks among the best books I’ve read this year.

ISBN: 9781760292010
Format: Paperback / softback
Pages: 272
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publish Date: 15-Oct-2019
Country of Publication: Australia

Review: The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

Natural.jpgThe Natural Way of Things isn’t a novel I ‘enjoyed’ in the traditional sense. Sure, it’s engrossing, and you’re likely to tear through over a couple of reading stints – but it’s an uncomfortable read. It’s unsettling, and unflinching in its portrayal of misogyny. But it needs to be. This is a subject that has to be explored candidly. Such stories need to have impact. Such stories need to resonate. And Charlotte Wood’s latest does. Boy, it does…

When Verla and Yolanda awaken, drugged and barely coherent, The Natural Way of Thingsreads like the beginning of a dystopian epic. But very quickly, Wood reveals this isn’t an impossible future. This is a novel set very much in the present, which deals with society’s abhorrent rape culture and slut-shaming, and the reality of misogyny. It’s turned up to the nth degree, but there’s truth to this fiction.

Verla and Yolanda, like the eight other women held captive by their sadistic guards in a remote, unspecified location somewhere in Australia, have all suffered from a variety of public sex scandal. Here, they are worked to the bone; degraded and violated in horrible ways, to such extremes that they eventually lose sight of their previous existence, and become focused on one thing: survival. Comparisons to The Lord of the Flies are deserved, but The Natural Way of Things is very much its own beast. Like its classic predecessor, it’ll leave you with plenty to think about.

This is a brave, terrifying novel. The Natural Way of Things is an elegant, enthralling, and provocative tale. It will leave a mark.

ISBN: 9781760111236
Format: Paperback (208mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publish Date: 1-Oct-2015
Country of Publication: Australia