Discussion Forums - September Hot Topics

Topic: Discussion of Year of Wonders

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
Page:   Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Discussion of Year of Wonders
Date Posted: 3/1/2012 8:19 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
Back To Top

K I haven't read this one so I won't be joining in on the discussion but I'll still post the question of the day each day.

All of the characters in this novel have their failings and as a result they are fully human. Are you surprised by the secrets Elinor and Micheal Mompellion each reveal to Anna about their marriage? How do they change your feelings about each character? Do they make either seem weaker in a way?

Date Posted: 3/1/2012 5:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
Back To Top

Hey Chris, hope you are feeling better.  We decided while you were not feeling well to postpone the discussion to Monday the 5th so everyone has a chance to catch up on the reading.  So, I'll wait to post my answer, and you can catch up if you have a copy.

Date Posted: 3/2/2012 4:35 AM ET
Member Since: 1/7/2008
Posts: 905
Back To Top

I'm about half done (got side tracked) but should finish this weekend, so I'll be around Sun or Mon to post.

Date Posted: 3/2/2012 9:22 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
Back To Top

Thanks y'all I guess that I should pay more attention lol.

Subject: SPOILER ALERT!!
Date Posted: 3/3/2012 5:42 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
Back To Top

All of the characters in this novel have their failings and as a result they are fully human. Are you surprised by the secrets Elinor and Micheal Mompellion each reveal to Anna about their marriage? How do they change your feelings about each character? Do they make either seem weaker in a way?

I was surprised at the revelation of Elinor regarding her marriage.  My opinion of the rector soared as she talked about the sacrifice he made to marry her in full knowledge that she couldn’t have children.  Up to that point I thought of him as a compassionate and intelligent man, but her revelation made me admire his character.   After Elinor’s death, I was surprised again as the rector derisively spewed out the real nature of the marriage and its emphasis on punishment.  That made me think he was more of a religious zealot convinced of his paternalistic righteousness.   I don’t think it made either character weaker, but more fully explored.

 



Last Edited on: 3/3/12 5:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/3/2012 9:48 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2009
Posts: 6,701
Back To Top

I found it hard to believe that the story of Elinor and the rector's marriage didn't come out until after she was dead.   It seemed they got along so well while she was alive...there wsn't any sense of punishment going on.    My biggiest grip about the book was that 90 persent of about the people of the city and the last couple pages wrapped up what was a huge part of the lead characters personal story.   Then the very last pages covered a decade or two.



Last Edited on: 3/4/12 4:37 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/4/2012 9:29 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
Back To Top

Deb, I think that it didn't come out until after Elinor's death because up to then the rector was absolutely sure he was right.  After she died, he realized he was wrong.

I agree about the last pages covering a lot too quickly.  It would have been interesting to read about her choices after the sea voyage instead of just an epilogue of where she ended up.

 

Edited for spelling



Last Edited on: 3/4/12 3:57 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/6/2012 11:29 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
Back To Top
K back to typeing on the phone for the time being. QotD is The Bradford family bears the brunt of Mompellion's rage when they leave town to save themselves. However weren't they only doing what every other noble family did in those days:run because they had the means to run? Setting aside the events near the end of the novel (which make it clear that one would be hard-pressed to find a redeeming quality in any of them), can you really blame the Bradford for running?
Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/6/2012 11:46 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
Back To Top

It seems to me there was reason to dislike the Bradfords before they left, they were never portrayed as decent people. And it wasn't just the fact that they left but they way they left, they could have either given more notice or had at least some of the servents stay and take care of the place. I was hoping the villagers would clean them out while they were gone. They were a real lovely bunch. 

 

For the first question these people were so damn proper no one would dare tell those kinds of things to anyone else, they just didn't talk about that kind of thing. I thought the Mr's confession was way over the top, it sounded like he tortured his wife on a daily basis. I was a little hard to believe. He preached so level heded most of the time. 

Date Posted: 3/6/2012 11:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
Back To Top

No, I don’t blame them for running since they had the means to do so.  I might have done the same given the knowledge at the time.  They knew that proximity to victims led to more victims.  They were already set apart from the community by virtue of their land holdings and residence.  The chances of them taking the plague with them couldn’t have been known at the time, but I can see why they went.

I also hoped that the villagers would ransack their place.  Or at least the ones let go without any notice.

Date Posted: 3/7/2012 9:45 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
Back To Top

K new Question of the day: How much of Monpellion's push for quarantine had to do with the secrets he shared with Elinor? Did his own dark side and self-loathing push him to sacrifice the town or was he really acting out of everyone's best interests?

Date Posted: 3/7/2012 11:44 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2009
Posts: 6,701
Back To Top

Re the Bradfords, the only way I would have believed them staying was if they felt compelled to stay to avoid spreading the plague beyond the town.   I think people in general realized it was spread by contact with other people since they quarantined themselves and other people stayed away.    I think my Catholic guilt might have made me stay even if I could have left.  

I also wanted to see the people ransack Bradfords home.   Or at least take up residence there  until they came back.  

I anticipated that the surrounding town people were only going to deliver the food etc for a couple weeks, then give up on it.  It was a high point of humanity to me that they con't to do so.  

I wondered why the Mompellions and the woman who told the story didn't get sick.  They certainly had plenty of contact with the dying and dead.

I tend to think that Mr M's belief that they should isolate themselves had more to do with saving the surrounding villages than his own take on punishment. Had the people all scattered, it's hard to say how many would have died.       

I did look up this historical event on line and it is pretty interesting.

 

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/8/2012 3:30 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
Back To Top

I was waiting for the village to be abandoned by the outsiders too, I was kind of surprised it never came. 

I don't know much about the plague but I do know that it worked randomly, it often left one or two people in a family unscathed. A lot of care workers never came down with it. I think a lot of diseases work out that way, differences in our immune systems or something. 

I also think Mr Mompellion was doing what he really thought was right at the time. Only when it was over did he seem to wonder if he had doomed a lot of the villagers to the plague by making them stay and he probably did but it surely would have spread worse if they had scattered. The way the book comes out makes it seem like this plague was confined to their village when it was far from that. It was all across Europe and many millions of people died. They may have kept it from spreading to their immediate surrounding area but it was all over anyway. Being isolated as they were they probably had no idea how many others had the same problem. 

The secrets of his marriage were so personal and unlike his public persona they didn't really seem part of him, making them more unbelievable IMO, so that revelation didn't really change the man I had the impression he was. 

Date Posted: 3/8/2012 5:56 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
Back To Top

This is a difficult question.  I do believe that Mompellion’s push for the quarantine had a lot to do with his paternalistic conviction that he knew best, and needed to save the people outside of the village.  However, his idea was sound.  By keeping all together, the risk of spreading the disease was minimized, even as it put those who stayed in greater danger.  I don’t think that self-loathing came into the decision, as that was not really brought out in his mind until after the death of his wife.

The people who didn't get sick during plague outbreaks were those with stronger immune systems.  Some got a milder case of the illness, some just didn't get sick at all.  It was brought out in the beginning of the book that Anna didn't get bitten by bugs, but her children did.  It is now common knowledge that the plague is spread by the fleas on rodents.  So, the cloth held fleas that bit the tailor and the kids but didn't like Anna.

Date Posted: 3/8/2012 9:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
Back To Top

Keeping in mind that this story takes pllace a good twenty-five years before the Salem witch trials in Massachussets, what is the role of the Gowdie women in the novel? What is it about these women that drives their neighbors to murderous rage? How does their nonconformity lead to their becoming scapegoats?

Date Posted: 3/8/2012 11:16 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2009
Posts: 6,701
Back To Top

This is a good question.  I heard once that when the 'witches' were burned the amount of cats around declined too and that of course caused proliferation of rats....fleas.....plague.  I think the whole concept of witches belongs in the mass hysteria category.   Plus women were not to be trusted due to the Adam and Eve thing.   I dont' know why women with herbs were not trusted while men with incense and prayers were.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/8/2012 11:36 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
Back To Top

Witch trials or something similar went on in Europe long before the pilgrims left, it was something they brought with them. I think they usually had a lot less of a trial aspect and more like what happened in the book, with an angry mob. 

Fear and superstition is what drives people to do these things. They can't understand what is happening to them or why so they look for otherworldly reasons. There was no way they could have understood disease back then and they put down everything they didn't understand to the supernatural. People still do it, religion relies on this concept. If anyone ever comes up with a way to prove what happens after death all religion (and most terrorism) would disappear. We have made some strides since those witch days but the thinking process that allows it to happen still exists in most people, especially in less developed areas. 

Date Posted: 3/9/2012 11:51 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
Back To Top

Can we slow down please?  At this rate the discussion will only be between three people and it will be over in a couple of days.

Let's give some more people time to catch up and join in the discussion.



Last Edited on: 3/9/12 11:55 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/9/2012 11:52 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
Back To Top

There were far more witch trials in England and Europe than there ever were in America.  In fact, nine major witch trials were held in England from 1589 - 1665, with more in Germany, France and elsewhere in Europe.  So, the idea that these women were plying witchcraft was completely consistent with the ideas at the time.

The Gowdie women were practitioners of the herbal arts, associated with witchcraft and thus, in the minds of the villagers, associated with the Devil, as was the plague.  The villagers had the idea that if the familiars of the devil were killed, then the plague would go with them.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/9/2012 4:59 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
Back To Top

I was watching a documentary on the Dark Ages last night and they were using the dunking method of establishing guilt in Europe as far back as the 6th century. They believed if you were guilty of whatever you were being dunked for God, who is in charge of nature, would make the water reject you and you would float. So these practices have long roots. 

Date Posted: 3/9/2012 8:03 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
Back To Top

"I heard once that when the 'witches' were burned the amount of cats around declined too and that of course caused proliferation of rats....fleas.....plague. "

Deb, you are part right.  It wasn't the witch hunts that got people to kill cats, it was the belief that ithe plague was spread by cats and dogs.  So, huge numbers were killed (particularly in London by the Lord Mayor), which allowed the rat population to explode along with the fleas.



Last Edited on: 3/9/12 8:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/10/2012 12:19 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
Back To Top

How would you explain Anna's mental and spiritual unraveling? What are the pivotal experiences leading up to her breakdown and her eventual rebirth?

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/10/2012 4:48 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
Back To Top

I must not have been paying attention, I don't remember her having a breakdown. 

Date Posted: 3/10/2012 5:01 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2009
Posts: 6,701
Back To Top

I recall her losing both children.....who wouldn't go off the edge?   But I think she threw herself into helping everyone else in town.   I don't recall much else about that part of the book.

Date Posted: 3/10/2012 5:42 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
Back To Top
I'm not gonna read it and I know a few others said they didn't want to read it either. This one may end up only being discussed by a few peeps.
Page: