Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fiction Review: Year of Wonders

I was excited to hear that my library's book group was going to discuss Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders because I absolutely loved her other two novels, March and People of the Book.  I wasn't disappointed.

Like her other novels, Brooks begins with historical facts, then fills in fictional details of the people involved.  Year of Wonders takes place in a remote English village in 1666, during a break-out of the plague.  This small, isolated village probably became infected with plague through a bolt of infected cloth delivered from London.  In a surprisingly self-sacrificing act, the village decided to quarantine itself to protect the rest of the English towns surrounding it.  They eventually lost about two-thirds of their small population to the illness.

From these fascinating facts, Brooks weaves the story of Anna, a young mother in the village whose life is forever changed by the events surrounding the plague and the quarantine.

You might be concerned, as I was, that this book will just be too depressing.  A couple of people in our book discussion did feel that way, but most of us found the story compelling and Brooks' writing engaging and vivid.  Interestingly, you know right from the first chapter how things will turn out for Anna, so many of the bad things that happen come as no surprise.  The novel focuses on the relationships between Anna and the other villagers and how this disaster affects them, both individually and as a community.  It's a captivating tale of love and life, with all of its joys and sorrows, written with the same spellbinding talent as Brooks' other exceptional novels.

308 pages, Viking (division of Penguin Putnam)

4 comments:

  1. I loved this book and People of the Book. I have not read March, because the topic doesn't interest me, but I've heard good things about it, too.

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  2. Ah, March is also excellent, Pam. It's set during the Civil War which I found absolutely fascinating. She's just got such an incredible talent for building fictional stories around historical facts.

    Sue

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  3. I haven't yet read YEAR OF WONDERS or MARCH (although I have them both). Based on how much I adored PEOPLE OF THE BOOK, I expect I'll like YoW (this is the first comment I've seen about some people finding it depressing).

    My paperback looks like the cover on your widget. I wonder if the picture at the top of your review is a new trade paperback? or the original hardcover? I haven't seen it before.

    Geraldine Brooks has a new book coming this summer ...

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  4. Dawn - I usually try to include a photo at the top that looks like the edition I read, though this one is a bit different. I read the hardcover from my library. The widget photo is the latest one Amazon is selling - the paperback.

    This is the first I'd heard Brooks has another book coming this summer - oooh, I can't wait! Thanks for the tip!

    Sue

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