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Charlotte Wood

Author of The Natural Way of Things

17+ Works 1,347 Members 84 Reviews

About the Author

Charlotte Wood was born in 1965 in Wales. She received a BA from Charles Sturt University and a Master of Creative Arts from UTS. She is the author several books including Pieces of a Girl, The Submerged Cathedral, The Children, Animal People, and The Natural Way of Things, which was named Indie show more Book of the Year for 2016, won the 2016 Stella Prize for women's writing and she became a joint winner of the 2016 Prime Ministers Award for fiction. She has also written a collection of short personal reflections on cooking entitled Love and Hunger. She was also editor of the anthology of writing about siblings entitled Brothers and Sisters. She won the 2013 People's Choice Award, NSW Premier's Literary Award for Animal People. In 2016, she was awarded the University of Sydney's $100,000 Charles Perkins Centre Writer in Residence fellowship. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Charlotte Wood

The Natural Way of Things (2015) 521 copies
The Weekend (2019) 351 copies
The Children (2007) 100 copies
The Submerged Cathedral (2004) 95 copies
Animal people (2011) 60 copies
Stone Yard Devotional (2023) 57 copies
Brothers and Sisters (2009) 40 copies
Pieces of a Girl (1999) 29 copies
Love and hunger (1615) 27 copies
The Best Australian Stories 2016 (2016) — Editor — 17 copies
Tage mit mir (2023) 3 copies
Helpings (2011) 2 copies

Associated Works

I for Isobel (1989) — Introduction, some editions — 129 copies
10 Short Stories You Must Read in 2011 (2011) — Contributor, some editions — 50 copies
The Best Australian Stories 2005 (2005) — Contributor — 19 copies
Art Map_ : 2017 (2016) — Project Manager — 2 copies


Common Knowledge



The narrator is an unnamed, middle aged woman, who after taking a short retreat at a run down convent in her home country of Australia, returns there and never goes home. Three 'visitations' that occur shape the story.

I expected this to be more about solitude than it was, which maybe lost it half a star (bit too much about the visitation of mice - relentless), but I still found moments of her self-exploration quietly deep.

Certainly a writer whose back catalogue I will visit.
Caroline_McElwee | 2 other reviews | Apr 4, 2024 |
A compelling read. I'm probably nit-picking but shortfalls for me were in the narrative arc and some of the details. While I accept that some of the women could have been permanently dis-empowered, it seemed very odd to me that they did not overpower their captors, short out the fence and escape. We really only get to know (just a little) about Yolanda and Yerla but I wanted to know more about the others so that I had more clues about why they were captives. But maybe clever, more observant readers don't need to know more. I once lived in the bush on rabbits and these days it doesn't take long to exhaust the supply. Ditto the inexhaustible supply of mushrooms. Seemed very out of sync that Yolanda would go out to inspect her traps with traps hanging from her belt. The traps would have been set. But these are very minor irritations. The book has a life of its own in a world of its own.… (more)
simonpockley | 30 other reviews | Feb 25, 2024 |
I could be wrong, but I think Stone Yard Devotional will test the loyalty of some of Charlotte Wood's more recent fans. I found it compulsive reading, and read on through the night, but though the preoccupation with human frailty in Stone Yard Devotional is there in her earlier work too, this novel is a departure from Wood's most recent fiction. There are no angry strident feminists as in The Natural Way of Things (2015), and her central character has deliberately jettisoned the succour of female friendship among older women that we saw tested in The Weekend (2019). Stone Yard Devotional (2023) is about a middle-aged woman alone and struggling with existential questions about goodness, forgiveness, hope and despair.

Indeed, this meditation on the life that's been lived reads more like an extended examination of conscience than anything else.

Catholics define examination of conscience as a process...
...to help call to mind our sins and failings during a period of quiet reflection before approaching the Priest in Confession. (Bulldog Catholic, viewed 3/11/23)

And although the central, unnamed narrator asserts her atheism from time to time, and there's certainly no mention of the Catholic ritual of confession in the novel, the preoccupation with wrongs done to others and the regrets she feels about her sins and failings seem quasi-religious to me.

Of course, that's not to say that non-believers don't engage in similar kinds of self-reflection. Most religious rites derive from rituals and ceremonies that humans do anyway.

This woman takes time out from her failed marriage and her busy life as a some kind of administrator for environmental concerns, to spend a week in solitude in a religious community on the Monaro. This small community of nuns ekes out an income by taking in guests who need a temporary escape to a life of simplicity, routine and peace. This is no 'wellness centre' with gourmet healthy meals, massage and luxury accommodation. What appeals to her is the solitude, the silence and the opportunity to reflect on her life without distraction. She decides to make this place her refuge and she joins the community. Not as a nun, but as a secular conventual oblate i.e. a committed volunteer in the service of the community, abiding by its rules but not necessarily sharing its religious beliefs.

The reader is given little or nothing in the way of a back story. We soon learn that she is grieving the death of her mother from some time ago, but we don't know why her relationship with Alex has failed, and we assume there are no children. We know very little about her friends except that they are hurt by her abandonment. The activist community from which she has summarily withdrawn is bereft as well. They do not understand, and she makes no attempt to explain, merely unsubscribing from everything.
The last thing I did on email before coming here for good was scroll and click. Threatened Species Rescue Centre: unsubscribe. Nature Conservation Council: unsubscribe. Rainforest Alliance: unsubscribe. Human Rights Watch: unsubscribe. Indigenous Literacy Foundation: unsubscribe. National Justice Project, Pay the Rent, Foodbank, Wilderness Society. Ethical Investments. Amnesty International, Red Cross, Climate Act Now, National Justice Project[sic], Aboriginal Legal Service, Bob Brown Foundation. Extinction Rebellion: unsubscribe. Change.org: unsubscribe. Fred Hollows Foundation. Greenpeace, Green Living Australia, Action Network, BirdLife Australia, Daintree Buyback. Chuffed.org. GoFundMe. Helen Parry Legal defence Fund: unsubscribe. (p.152)

Despite this disconnection from people and causes that she had obviously held dear, her retreat to a spare, monastic life can still be disturbed.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2023/11/03/stone-yard-devotional-2023-by-charlotte-wood...
… (more)
anzlitlovers | 2 other reviews | Nov 3, 2023 |
A low three stars. I want to like this a lot, but I don't think I really do. Having sampled some of Wood's other (more recent) work, I think maybe I like her more as she gets older.

The plot of this book is fairly solid, although I'm not entirely sure I was convinced by the motivation behind Martin's mid-book decision that's fairly significant. And it's an interesting historical romance. Still, I think you have to be able to justify lines like "His certainty falls over her like rain", and I'm not sure this prose style can quite do that. (I'm also intrigued by the author's bald admission in the endnotes that she "transplanted" a real-life event a few years earlier to fit her timeline! Might have been best just to discreetly get away with that one...)… (more)
therebelprince | 5 other reviews | Oct 24, 2023 |



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