A beautifully written story of a young woman surviving through a year when the plague killed most of her friends and family.
It's based on a true story - the author read of a small village in England where the people decided to quarantine themselves to avoid spreding the disease to neighboring towns and villages. She built the character and other details around this framework.
I couldn't stop reading until I had fnished the book!
This is a wonderful book. Well-written and moving. Note that all her research shows up in tangents to the plague. That isn't a bad thing, but the book is more a story of life during that time: mining, law enforcement, ideas on witchcraft, etc. I've read many books on the plaguefrom Defoe to Cantorbut it was interesting to see a broader take on life during that time.
If you like this one, you might like "1066: The Year of the Conquest." It is a history of the Norman invasion as experienced in one village.
What a simple life. Also makes you wonder, as I'm sure they did, why some were infected and others not. Have always heard about the plague but have never read a book where it made it so human. Recommend!!
This book is absolutely timeless. It is beautifully written and well imagined, and just heartbreaking to the point everything seems real. This book is the type that keeps one intrigued until they let it down, because until the end, you really don't think that book is fiction, not really...
What a beautifully written book! Ms. Brooks certainly did her homework. The book is well-researched and "inspired" by her visit to the real "Plague Village" of Eyam, Derbyshire. She has developed for us a truly interesting cast of characters that the reader comes to care about deeply. At times her descriptions read like prose and draw you into the story so you can almost feel the cool breezes or the press of the heavy dampness.
The story is told from the point of view of Anna, a young widow of the plague. Her intelligence and strength of character provide a counter balance to the ignorance and superstition of the time, fueled by the raw fear of the plague. The book provides an interesting glimpse into the customs and culture of a time when smart women feared being labeled as witches and religious intolerance bred harsh punishments.
You would think that "A Novel of the Plague" (subtitle) would be too depressing to read, but I did not find that to be the case. I read this book almost non-stop - I was fascinated by the characters, the realistic details of life during 1666 in a small rural English village, what they knew (and didn't know) about medicine, indeed, everything about this book. Highly recommended!
I have to say, I have quite enjoyed being able to tell my husband - as we are 30 days to the Presidential election - that instead of watching the politicos duke it out on cable news with him, I would rather "go read about the Plague". :)
Overall, an interesting book. I loved the main character/narrator. The details of the time, the illness itself, the mining and farming techniques and the human behaviors during such a time were interesting, fascinating. The details of the illness itself, while gross, did not disturb me.
The part that ruined the book for me was the "sex scene". It was just too... gratuitous - not necessary, made to reveal a detail that could have been revealed another way. It was too out of character for the two involved, especially when you look at him and what motivated him to do what he did. I feel that could have been left out and she still could have ended up the way/where she had based on the child. (I am trying hard not to write a spoiler!)
I also found the ending, though "nice" a little too unrealistic, and after reading the author's note, I kindof felt like she forced that ending for the narrator based on her own work and interest. Too contrived. Nice, but contrived.
I am interested to read the author's non-fiction now. She is a good writer and creates wonderful description. It was a beautiful read, for a book about the Plague.
I liked this story, even though I didn't like her book March. This was about a little village in 1600s England that finds out they have the plague there..and they seal themselves off from the other towns to prevent it's spread. The lead character loses her family, and many of her friends, but is a very strong woman who perserveres.
This is a wonderful, touching story about an English village in 1665 that is infected with the plague, and how they determine to cut themselves off from the rest of the world to keep it from spreading.
Note to all you mothers out there - if you can't handle books with small children dying horrible deaths, avoid this one!
this author creates 1600 england so well you feel a part of it. if you love to read aboutthe uses of plants and herbs for medicine, class battles,the plague and how it affected this village you will really enjoy this book. i am sure i will read this one again.
NOTE:this author has written other fiction and non-fiction books.i am now reading her book on her life (non-fiction) in the 1990's middle east. and she jsut wrote a book called "March" the story she made up about Captain March of "little Women" she is a real talent
A nice little novella based on a true story of one village in northern England that decides to isolate itself so as not to spread the dreaded plague. It showcases the best and worst of human nature as the villagers struggle to understand the violent illness that is visited upon more than 2/3 of them, and as ordinary people show their true colors under unimaginable stress. It also connects us to that time, 1666, by making the subtle point that despite 350 years, the human story and struggle remains the same--even in the face of our modern 'conveniences'.
A quick read and a smart little insert to historical fiction.
this is a good read. It gives a lot of detail about how people lived in the time of the black plague as well as presenting a very believable story about one woman. The author presents her as an individual who has overcome many obsticles in her life and develops a great inner strength.
This is a sad but heroic tale of a small village affected by the Plague in the year 1666 and the strength of those who held the village together during this horrific epidemic. The main character, Anna, is inspiring and this book certainly passes the feminism test. I highly recommend it!
A haunting look at life in a secluded English village during the year of the Black Plague--based on true events. Offers a rare look at the dynamics of a village beset by plague and isolated by their own moral -- but ultimately misplaced -- code of conduct. A great read!
This book is well written and gives a hint of what life may have been like during a terrible time of plague. It's not an easy read, because of the content, but it is a good read. I like history, so was fascinated by some of the details and some of the attitudes in the book. It's based on an actual event in history, when a small village cuts itself off from the surrounding countryside, after discovering black plague in the village.
Although they didn't know how plague spread, they knew it did and so tried to prevent it from spreading across the entire countryside by the isolation of the village. A most interesting book.
This book was a quick read but packs quite a punch in those pages. It tells the story of a peasant girl in England who has had nothing but trials and tribulations in her life. She is an unlikely hero who, despite losing everything, becomes stronger than anyone around her. Great story and worthwile read. Not for the faint of heart however. It does contain some pretty graphic descriptions of plague symptoms and events, but the unflinching descriptions just add to the reality of this story.
The historical detail in this book is vivid and well-imagined. The story is set in a time of despair (The Plague) but the story itself is not depressing. I was quite impressed with this first novel by Geraldine Brooks.
I enjoyed Year of Wonders very much. A bit stalling with olde English prose but I thought the book was well researched. I liked that main characters had flaws to humanize them. So often, they are made out as " superhero" in character. Some descriptions were gruesome but such is life as well, I'm sure, was the plague.
This is an exceptionally interesting historical read based on a true story of a village which voluntarily closed itself off from the rest of the world to stop the Black Plague from spreading beyond them. The characters are ones I grew to care about and didn't want the book to end. I wish the author would write another like this --- engrossing!
This one had me hooked from page 1 and I couldn't put it down until I finished it - one of the best books I've read to date! This is about a small village in England that is hit by the Plague, told through the eyes of a servant woman. It was neat to read about how the roles of the village people had to adapt as more and more of their neighbors died. The writing was wonderful and painted a very vivid picture of the village and how they lived back then.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book until the very end. It was a "can't-put-down" book, but all of a sudden I found myself wrinkling my nose in disbelief. The author seems unable to let go of her previous book topic and decided to merge it into the ending of this one. The ending doesn't seem plausible on many levels.
It's 1665: Plague Time in Not-So-Jolly Old England. We're in a remote village, a community so small that everyone knows a great deal about everyone else---their names and recent family trees, members of their current households (including servants), their business, health, religious practice, drinking habits, marital accord or discord, and a zillion other things. (This is perhaps more amazing to me than you, because I grew up in Houston.) In short, it's a cauldron of factoids and feelings in which information, no matter how trivial or intimate, travels fast, and emotions amplify faster. All these people are more or less devoutly religious and attend the same church. They seem to function well enough as a working community that they don't need much in the way of public officialdom: the Rector (minister of the church) is their de facto leader, when a leader is needed.
Why did I devote a whole paragraph to the village? Because only by imagining the setting can you get a sense of how powerfully put together, and also how richly entertaining, is this novel. I don't read a lot of historical novels, but it's certainly true of non-historical novels that it's unusual to find one that not only has gripping prose and great characters, but also such a "high concept" premise (as they say in the movie biz) that a tightly structured and satisfying storyline can be solidly built on the scaffolding of that premise. As for the sheer entertainment value---yes, it's partly Schadenfreude---all those guilty-pleasure gross-out descriptions of the most horriying ravages of the disease---but isn't that what you for look in a plague novel? (Among other things, of course.) And why not? I ask.
Contemporary pagans---and anyone who's interested in the conflict vs. mutual-tolerance situation between Christianity and pagan religions, through centuries of history and today as well---will find much to ponder in this story. The novel's heroine, Anna Frith, teaches herself ancient herbal remedies for alleviating pain and other symptoms, using resources from the mysterious hoard of a "witch" woman---who, despite her eccentricity, was accepted by the community, and even valued for her skills as a healer. But in the face of mounting hysteria over the death toll, that tolerance toward "witchy" dealings is strained. Dormant prejudice against "witches" is stirred back into life, and inflamed to the point of inciting mob violence. (I put the word "witch" in quotes---knowing full well that many witches use that word with pride---because it appears to have been a term of opprobrium, denoting a worshipper of the Devil, in the context of the bad guys in Brooks's novel.)
Now, I'm going to draw on your patience while I have fun with science. (-: My take on the village's situation, at the outset of the book, is this: when its people decide (heroically) to isolate themselves from the outside world, their community becomes a closed system---a system I'll assume is in some sort of equilibrium, stable or otherwise. But we don't get to observe this system in its normal equilibrium, because it's already in a process of responding to a perturbing element (plague bacillus) from outside. (The principles here are more or less from thermodynamics.) Now, a perturbed closed system like this can generate what are called emergent phenomena---tendencies, observables, events, which appear quite suddenly and are not predictable from even exhaustive information about the two combining elements (system + perturbance). But even with all of this going on, if the system has enough of what is called resilience, it will recover, organizing itself into a new and different equilibrium.
Following through on how this model might apply to Year of Wonders, we've got the closed system (village after they've isolated themselves), the perturbance (plague), and, I think, at least one emergent phenomenon: hysteria and fear over death and disease (predictable phenomena) leading to paranoia about those whom they call "witches," escalating to persecution and mob violence (an emergent, unpredictable, and destabilizing phenomenon). As for the resilience of the village system, what pulls it back toward recovery and restoring equilibrium (a new equilibrium)---we must look to our point-of-view character, the young widow Anna Frith, she of the "witchy" herbs and selfless amateur nursing, and the allies she recruits.
And so the process of recovery---in which the stabilizing and destabilizing elements in the system (village) intertwine, face off, push and pull, and are embodied in different characters---provides at least as much of the novel's suspense, as the possibility that if it kills enough people, the plague will wipe out the village. At the end of the novel, I was fascinated by the questions Brooks leaves hanging, such as how the new equilibrium of the village community will differ from the old one, and how that difference will shape the future of its people.
As I said, I don't usually read historical novels. Not because I know enough history to look down on them as insufficiently accurate or whatever, because I don't; but for the same reason that I've never studied history in any kind of systematic way: some of the particulars are intriguing, but the broad sweep of history just doesn't do much for me.
And so I appreciate this comment about Year of Wonders, from Publishers Weekly:
Discriminating readers who view the term historical novel with disdain will find that this debut by praised journalist Brooks (Foreign Correspondence) is to conventional work in the genre as a diamond is to a rhinestone.
Cornball, but it works for me.
(which has a bunch of yummy stuff,
but sorry, this book isn't there anymore)
*SPOILER ALERT* The narrator survives a year quarantined in a 17th century village in Central England that has been infected with the bubonic plague. The account is harrowing, as the people of the village become unhinged mentally as villagers die off first in groups, then one after the other. Mob rule begins to set in almost immediately after the first round of multiple fatalities from the plague. This is a very good read, but not a lighthearted one.
I enjoyed this book about a kitchen maid living in a small town in London during 1666 Plague outbreak. It is about the town's struggle with the disease and how it effected each person. It's a quick read and quite interesting.
WOW! Oh my God! Amazing. This book is so wonderful I can't begin to say. I found myself holding my breath so many times while reading it,it is so well writen. So much happens in this story it is hard to believe it is such a short book. I would recommend this book to anyone.
This book was about a woman who endured the plague in 1666. I found myself really enjoying this book. It drew me in slowly in the beginning but, by mid- book I couldn't put it down. Its a great read. Keeps you wondering.
You read the other reviews; the plague brings death to every household in the small English Village. The story does not drag; it moves on at a good pace, the writing and the characters are good. The book kept me interested although some of the graphic death scenes caused me to squirm a bit. I would recommend this book
Personally, I liked the story. Sometimes I felt the story dragging on and on. For the first few chapters, I read very slowly. Eventually, though, as the story moved on, I found it becoming more interesting. About the middle to nearly the end, I couldn't put the book down.
Nearly the end.
I found myself wondering if Anna were superwoman for all she had managed to do in that time between the plague coming and finally disappearing. She was a simple peasant and servant, yet she could interpret Latin, create herbal remedies, ride a horse like a man, act as a midwife and deliver a breech baby, set a fire to mine iron even though she herself stated that she'd never even seen the inside of a mine... yes, the woman can and does do everything. Even those things well above her station as a servant. I think it was the excessive nature of her talents that started to annoy me and grate on my nerves. If not for Anna's shows of occasional modesty that seemed sincere, she would have been a Mary Sue. After a while, I began to wonder if Anna was going to start to sparkle and cure the plague with her tears. When she began yelling at her former masters and acting well out of her station, I had to wonder if Brooks was paying any attention to realistic social boundaries of the time. Again, this might not have annoyed me had I not grown weary of Anna's super talents. Though I say annoyed above, I mean it in a very amused way. I don't get angry about books, at least not often. I just found myself shaking my head and snorting at certain parts of the books. And why would a rich Muslim doctor marry a widowed infidel from England?
There's also much romance to be had. Okay, there is supposed to be romance. Up until Anna and the vicar Mompellion connected eyes over a shave towards the end of the book, there was absolutely no chemistry between them. Yet all of a sudden the two of them were copulating on the floor in a manner totally unlike an Anglican man of God and a modest, holy servant. The romance between them came completely out of nowhere. I guess I should have seen it coming when throughout the book Brooks dedicated countless lines of adjectives and praise for things like the commanding boom of the Mompellion's voice, or his strong arms, or his dominating nature. I thought it a bit odd that he was being described in 'romance book terms,' yet there was absolutely no personal intimate chemistry between him and Anna.
And I am still disappointed in the turn Mompellion's character made towards the end. It was so completely out of his character that I had trouble accepting it. Twists are one thing, but making a character into something opposite with no hints to his true nature is just out of the blue and confusing.
I know that I sound overly critical, but book readers know that a book can be flawed while still being a very great story. I liked the morbidity of the story; witnessing the breakdown of the people in this town as they battled adversity and death was fascinating. It was unreal to me to submit myself to death in the way the town people did. I had to commend the bravery of Brooks' characters, even as I condemned them for their actions in other regards. Yet, it was understandable how they behaved under certain circumstances. When faced with death, who knows what one would do or how to cope? And yes, Anna had her moments, but I found her a very likable character.
This book was like sociology and morbid psychology in action.
Year of Wonders is actually a very good book. It is a good and interesting read. You will read the book and find yourself captivated by much. I didn't grow bored with what I read, even as I snorted in mirth. If you like historically based novels with a lot of drama and a fair mixture of people going absolutely crazy, you'll really enjoy this one. I did.
This is a very well written book about a topic that is so far from our imaginations in a modern medically advanced society. I thought that the author created characters that were realistic and the dynamic between them was excellent. It is a great book that makes you look at the hardships in our own lives and how we actually are able to deal with them head-on. I would recommend this book if you love historical fiction. It is even a good read if you are interested in what might have been in the time of the plague.
The Black Plague, sounds like fun reading right? I was really surprised at the story line and the insights the author provided into the characters. I didn't anticipate all the twists and turns. Most surprising was the ending, I thought it was pretty much a given due to the foreshadowing, but it was not so, however, it was not unrealistic given the context of the book.
I would definitely read this author again.
Wonderfully written story of the plague in a small English village and the turmoil and hysteria endured by its inhabitants. Very engaging and I could not put it down. I have read it again since then and it was just as great the second time.
I expected this book to be more of a history book than a novel about a woman's struggles. The narrator basically tells you the story of her life during the time of the plague in Europe. The book is an engaging read with a surprising ending. The book illustrates how we are all remarkably similar when forced to focus on surviving (as opposed to living). The author makes it easy to envision how hard life was during that time and the types of sacrifices one had to make.
What a wonderfully written story. Geraldine Brooks is fantastic author. I really enjoyed the writing and am amazed at how lovely a story about the Plague can be portrayed. The heroin was believable and I found myself rooting for her and what she loved. And the ending 'fit' the story nicely. On the other hand, the Epilog and the Afterward both were disappointing to me. I wish I hadn't read them . . . they changed the way the ending 'fit' making it a mismatch for me.
a wonderful, powerful novel set in a small, isolated village during the black death that struck england in 1666. this book was not really what i expected- it was much more. and though the ending kind of threw me, it was truly a worthwhile read.
Picked this up after seeing a doco on PBS about the "Plague Village", Eyam. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. It was a quick read and overall, I enjoyed the story. My only complaint is the ending didn't satisfy me - it just seemed out of character which is why this is only 4 stars, not five. However, I did enjoy the fictionalised account of the villagers' experiences of the year in quarantine.
Edited to add that I had the opportunity to visit Eyam in November 2005. I've re-read this book now and appreciated it even more having been there.
Excellent book. Very, very hard to read at times.
The author explains a plague extremely well and leaves nothing to your imagination in her descriptions. The best part of this story is how the main character deals with the many tragedies that occur. The characters are well fleshed out and its amazing and bittersweet how the whole village handles everything. There are naturally those that don't think of others and are only concerned with themselves. It makes you think. What if? Would I or my family or town people handles things? Would we do better? Or worse?
Well written book. Vivid details. However, I feel like the ending didn't quite jive with the rest of the book. It was almost like I was reading another story. Had me thinking, "Wait a second. Who are these people? What happened to the ones I've been reading about?" I know what they went through changed them but it just seemed odd. Still, a very captivating book about the people of the plaque.
This book had points where it was very difficult to read, not because of the writing style but because of the horrible details. However, in a way, that made me appreciate it more because I really got a sense of how devastating the Plague actually was, and the depths to which humans can sink when faced by tragedy.
This should have been a five star book, and until I got to the epilogue, it was. That ending, though! Ugh! It seemed entirely implausible and does not fit at all with the rest of the story. Maybe if this had been a series and that epilogue was a segue into a second novel.... but as it is, it doesn't work for me.
All that aside, Year of Wonders is worth reading. Brooks has an incredible command over the English language, using a style that would be familiar to people in 1666 but is still very readable today, and if you can stomach the REALLY graphic descriptions, you'll find yourself wrapped up in a poignant tale of life, death, and rebirth.
Very well written historical fiction! Truly the best book I've read in a long time. Not a feel good book - obviously- but as disburbing as some of the facts were about the plague at that time , I couldn't stop reading. Highly recommended!
Very good book! A twist at the end was very surprising. Though the book is very sad at times, it shows the strength of the main character and you realize just how life might have been during the 1600s. Fascinating.
I really enjoyed this book. This author writes really interesting books with a historical perspective. The subject matter of this one is the Plague and it's based on actual historical facts but the story is amazing and inspiring despite the horrific circumstances. I really loved how the main character developed into a passionate and strong woman. It's a good lesson in how difficult circumstances sometimes allow us to discover secret strengths and abilities within ourselves.
It's a hard read, but I loved it. One of my favorite all-time books. But many in my Book Club did not like it at all. There are many words in it that are from the 1600's and therefore with no definition. But I thought that this was a book about a strong woman enduring unimaginable hardships and still surviving.
What a great book! The author really gave me a feel for life back in the mid-1600's. The descriptions really bring you there. Depressing subject, but so very interesting. Great characters. I gave it a 9/10 because the ending was a little too farfetched for me. But otherwise this is one of the better books I have read in a long time.
Super book on survival in the Middle Ages that deals with the life of one intelligent woman who witnessed the deaths around her. When faith cannot uphold the villagers, in ignorance they turn to hatred, mistrust and witch hunts. Their fears are multiplied by the isolation of the village which, following the words of their priest, has quarantined itself from the rest of the world. But even the priest is overcome as he yields to an illicit affair. Ending is a bit weak, but story overal is engrossing.
It was a really interesting read. Although the story was about a handmaid in a town with an outbreak of the plague, the story is truly about a town's response to a devastating crisis and how some people rise to the occasion and how some people succumb to the stress and the unspeakable horrors that resulted. The question is "who can hold on to their faith and hope that they will make it through this year of unbelievable tragedy?"
This book was a joy to read. The prose was so lyrical and descriptive that I could almost smell apples on the air. Anna and Michael are amazing characters that I wish interacted more. The way that Brooks sets-up and describes the "year of wonders" is absolutely addicting.
The book made me think about what I would do in the character's situation. Any book that makes you think about something outside of the plot is okay by me. The amount of detail and description that went into writing this text made reading it all that more enjoyable.
I was greatly looking forward to reading this book base don the teaser back cover. Unfortunately, I found it to be revisionist drivel of the worst ilk. The heroine is a peasant, yet she manages to learn to read and speak eloquently, become a skilled midwife and herbalist, speak Latin, and mine lead all in less than a year. She almost singlehandedly nurses the village and remains patient and saintly above all the chaos. In the end, backward England is too much for her and she travels to the Barbary coast, where she is welcomed and made the wife and female assistant of an Arab doctor. He, of course, is enlightened and understands her independence and need for freedom (as long as she and her daughters stay veiled so only her eyes show, insert derisive SNORT here). Aside from this comic book like PC superwoman character, what really upset me is the way in which she turned the truly good rector (she admits this herself in the afterword) of history into a, well, monster. This book offered an excellent opportunity to show how goodness, as in the case of the true rector of accurate history and his self-sacrificing wife (who had 2 children by the way and died of plague while nursing the village, and who did not have an illicit child, self-abortion via poker, torturous sexless marriage or death by the hand of a knife wielding madwoman) can exist in the face of terror and strife, and yet she chose to go down that well trodden path of sensationalism and revisionism instead. In the afterword, she notes that she took advice that historical novelists should take their history in short doses and not let it overinfluence their work! I would beg, then, that they drop the "historical" part of the genre and stick with plain fiction instead.
I really liked this somber (but fictional) tale of a plague-afflicted village in 1665-66. The story was inspired by the true story of the village of Eyam, Derbyshire.
Is this story as good as "Doomsday Book" by Connie Willis? Well, no, I don't think it was. But it's also not as emotionally draining as "Doomsday Book", and "Doomsday" also involves time travel, while this story stays firmly in the past. It's hard not to compare the two books though, since both are about villages attemtping to cope with the plague and feature a clergyman as a character.
As much as it is a story about a village suffering from the plague, this is a story about a woman's growth and realization of her own strength. The book does have a strange and unexpected ending which surprised me and didn't leave me entirely satisfied, but given what we know about the character, I'm not sure how else Brooks could have ended this story. All in all though, I'd recommend "Year of Wonders". It definitely kept my interest.
I really enjoyed this book and loved how the author created a very convincing image of an English village in the 1660s. It is evident that Brooks really did her research on many of the aspects of life in England in the 1660s. The village finds itself in the grips of the Plague and decides to quarantine itself to protect neighboring towns. This book showed how a mob mentality can take over and become a truly scary thing, how women with some medical knowledge (even just informal knowledge of herbs) could be seen as witches, and gave pretty graphic descriptions of what a Plague sufferer would have gone through. Anna was also a great character because she does have her flaws. The ending was the only thing that didn't seem to fit with the rest of the novel. It felt a bit forced and out of place with the rest of the book.
I always love Geraldine Brooks. With every book, I learn about a different topic. She does an incredible job of researching before she writes, and I usually feel like I've read history rather than fiction. Life in the 1600's was incredibly difficult!
I had never read anything written by Geraldine Brooks, so I had no idea what to expect. I enjoyed her writings about the plague during the 1600's and its toll on a small village outside of London. The village became known as "Plague Village" was quarantined due to the serious outbreak of plague that killed over half of its population. The story of a young girl and the part she played in the survival of humanity when it felt there was none. Anna suffered more than most with ghosts from her past and present to haunt her sleeping hours. Anna was a great heroine of the village but few recognized her as such, as she was humble and didn't conduct the selfless acts for any reason other than the kindness towards another.
Though it was a short book 255 pages it took me a while to read, I had to take it in pieces because parts are so honest and graphic.
A fictionalized telling of an actual event--the attack of a small English village by Plague in 1666 and the town's collective decision to voluntarily quarrantine. The book is very well researched. The setting, language, and characters are true to period. Several themes run heavily through the story, including hope in times of despair, the nature of faith, and the destructive effect of ignorance. Despite the depressing subject matter, the book has a satisfying and hopeful conclusion for the protagonist.
Another great read by Geraldine Brooks.
Her research about the area, plague, people etc are for lack of words...a work of reading art.
The reader gets to be part of the story from the first page to the last.
Ms Brook's preparation on the subject is amazing and most precious to the reader.
Loved the book and look forward to reading more of her works.
This book was heartbreaking. So much death and sorrow. But the strength of the main character was amazing. I don't know how she managed to keep her self going after facing so much. The writing style was magnificent. Lyrical, poingnant and heartfelt. A very well done first novel!
I picked this book for a book club. I found this book very interesting. However, it is a major downer, because it talks of the isolation of a town as a result of its members being affected by the plague. About half of our members did not finish the book because of the subject matter. However, it is a fascinating look at what life was like during this time.
Reading this book was a bittersweet experience for me. It took me a week (I'm a mom so I don't have that much time to read) but for those with more time you could finish this in a few days if you're a power reader. For 6 days I thoroughly enjoyed every single page. It is a rare occurrence to joyfully soak in every word and realize not one of them is superfluous. However the 7th and final day I was terribly disappointed when the storyline dramatically changed in such an uncomfortable and jarring way I was left beyond disappointed, confused and wondering why.
Please believe me when I say every character detail and plot line was very well thought out and explored with wonderful precision so that by the time the storyline changed so bizarrely it really was (for me anyway) a complete slap in the face.
**Spoiler** - don't read this part if you haven't read the book - if the Rector had an unconventional relationship with Elinor why had we not been given more detail in previous pages? It could have been still been suspenseful and a surprise if Geraldine had thought it through enough. Anna's change from doting servant/friend to jealous & spiteful didn't make sense. It came completely out of left field. Then when Elinor dies all of a sudden her feelings of the friendship/memories she had with Elinor border on the fantastical. If they were such good friends Elinor would have shared the truth about her marriage to the Rector. As for Anna taking off to another country and becoming part of a harem, well that was too far off the map for me to even begin to enjoy it.
I had so much hope for this book but the ending spoiled it completely for me. I give this a 3.5 out of 5.
This was a riviting depiction of a year of the plague. The narator has a great voice telling the story. Even though it was an historical fiction it seemed very real. I could hardly put it down. I would give it a 5 star rating.
One of my all time favorites! I really enjoyed this historical fiction. I agree with other posters regarding the ending, however. I just didn't seem to fit the story. But overall, a very worthwhile read!
Interesting story, well told. The ending is a bit contrived, I think, and sort of implausible, like the author suddenly realized she had to end it somehow, and didn't want to do anything conventional. However, all in all, a great story. Detailed stuff about life during that period was terrific.
This is a wonderful book, well written and an interesting subject but more than that it tells the story supposed to be based on a true story about what happens when a bolt of cloth from a traveling merchant turns out to be contaminated with the plague and the village caught up in the plague manage to survive for the year it takes for it to finally pass. The vicar of the village convinces the town to go into self imposed quarantine, the story itself is told through the eyes of the vicar's maid. If you like historical fiction, you'll love this, this is one of the best books I've ever read. I would also recommend "People of the Book" written by the same author.
Year of Wonders is from Spring 1665 until the following spring of 1666 in a small English village that quarantines itself from the world when bubonic plague outbreaks. The story shows the goodness, the evil and the emotional instability of the villagers as they lose their friends, neighbors and loved ones to the plague. Specifically, the story is about Anna and how she survives the death of her two young sons, the death of her best friend, the wickedness of her father, and the betrayal of her religion. Anna is a wonder, and the book is a gem!
This was a great book! England in the 1600s, I believe. It details a small village that decided to close itself off to the outside world in order to keep from spreading the plague that had found its way into the village.
A village near London becomes infected with the plague in 1666. What occurs over the next year is both a horrifying and redeeming look at human nature. The ending, however, is somewhat hard to swallow.
A powerful, poetically written tale of the quiet heroism of one village in Plague time. The story is a metaphor for how sweeping catastrophic events change the social order while opening individual hearts. Beautifully written and carefully researched, this is emotionally truthful historical fiction.
A wonderfully written book about the plague in the year 1666. The choices people make as to whether to stay in the village or leave. And what happens to their faith as they confront the deaths of family and friends.
Wow, a book about the plague's devistation on a town that's not overwhelmingly depressing and grievous. The last chapter and epilogue seems a little contrived, but a worthy read overall, especially knowing that this is based on a real event!
The central female character is strong and inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the interesting historical details that Geraldine Brooks is well known for. There are twists and details that will BLOW YOUR MIND. Highly Recommend.
A moving portrait of a woman from 1666 in a London town in which the town purposely quarantines themselves to ensure that the Plague does not extend and pass from their town to others. I enjoy Geraldine Brooks' work, particularly "People of the Book," and I would call this a close second to that work. Again, the author has blended fictional and actual events of a town in London, and has written the book from the perspective of a maid that served the town's minister through the quarantine. A simple reference of the maid in an actual letter from the actual minister of the town that quarantined themselves is what propelled the author to begin thinking about what life must have been like for this woman, and she creates a thorough account of that one year from this maid's eyes, drawing on events and actions that are documented from the actual town. I struggled only with the language of the way it was written, as it was written in the same speech as what someone from that time would speak as and write, but once you get used to it, you do not notice it again. It is a moving story, one that you cannot put down.
I just finished this book and can't get it out of my mind. The author's style is my cup of tea. Her text is descriptive, but not overly so, she has researched the time period (1665-1666) in England very well, and her characters are outstanding, especially the protagonist, Anna. The story is so real that you find yourself grieving with all of the people who lost loved ones to this monstrous epidemic. I was truly mesmerized by the Protestant minister who was at the heart of the story. I felt a great deal of compassion for him, but a certain anger toward him, too. But in the end we come to understand him and realize that, like everyone else, he is a product of the times and his own deeply held beliefs.
My only problem with this book is the fantasy ending. I'd be interested in knowing how others feel about it.
When you look at the plot synopsis you think this is going to be terrible. Who wants to read about the plague? This is a good story told by a woman who lived through the trials of that time. You finish the book feeling satisfied, as after a hearty meal. I would highly recommend this.
This book kept my attention from the entire time. I felt transported back to 1665 and the entire world was painted in vivid detail for me by the author. The ending seemed a little contrived but because I was so engrossed in the rest of the book I'm willing to believe the rest of it.
Encourage anyone who loves historical or speculative historical fiction to read this and contemplate their own actions if they were in Eyam.
Very interesting account of the plague. This book is a testament to exactly what the human spirit can overcome and how much sadness one can sustain. Very easy read, I became so entwined in the lives of the characters I could not put it down.
Excellent book. A very real re-creation based on facts of the plague in 1665-1666 in a small village in England. You get a real understanding of the suffering,loss,miracles and deep horrors that this plague brought out in humanity. Highly recommend this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite the dark topic. We read it at our book club and 9/10 of us loved it. It tells the story of courage and strength in the face of tragedy - how the darkest times can bring out the best and worst of human nature.
This was one of the worst books I've ever read. Everything about it was terrible. I certainly didn't expect a novel about the plague to be uplifting but this was disgusting and horrifying the entire way through. There were no redeeming qualities in any characters or even any uplifting scenes. The worst part was the language used and the way the characters spoke. It seemed like a strange combination of modern language mixed with colonial speech, neither of which is appropriate and the back and forth was disorienting. There is no way someone in 1666 would have said "I'm coming down with a cold"! The only reason I powered through the story is because it was a selection for my book club and I wanted to be able to participate in discussions. I would not recommend this book to anyone!
I enjoyed this book very much. The characters were well depicted, the writing was well done. The events were true of this small town in England that isolated itself to prevent further spread of the Plague.
I thought I would enjoy this book but I was very disappointed in it. As hard as I tired I just couldn't get interested in it. I don't like the way it was written. I only read a few pages and then I reposted it.
I read this book on a recommendation in a magazine. It is based on a true story of an English village hit by The Plague. It is a glimpse of life during that time and how the village coped with it. Beautifully written.
This book did not hold my interest. It was written in the manner and wording according to the time period. It just seemed to drag. I hate giving bad reviews. The author probably did a good job of sticking to how the people talked and thought.
Wow! I love this one. It's the poignant story of Anna, a maid, who lives in a small village that is ravaged by the plague in the seventeenth century. Anna is a sensitive, intelligent character that one comes to admire highly as the story develops. Her emotions are so realistic - both positive and negative - that you feel like you know and understand Anna. Losing her husband first to a mining accident and her two children to the plague, Anna has the strength to move on and live her own life. She helps and nurses those who are sick as she struggles with her grief. Losing two close friends deepens her grief but increases her zest for living. The final ending did not seem realistic but I understand its choice after reading the author's explanation of her research and development of the story. I highly recommend this read to anyone who has not taken time to read Year of Wonders. It's a 5 star read for sure!
Excellently researched, excellently told - the story of an English town that sequestered itself during a plague outbreak is heartwrenching and hopeful at the same time. The main character, Anna, faces tragedy upon tragedy and yet uses all of those tragedies to become stronger and to reach out to others. Meanwhile, the "strong" parish parson fails when it matters most - though in the end, he seems to recover somewhat. The details and horrors of the plague are brought to life. Thank God for insecticides that kill fleas and antibiotics that kill bacteria!!
"When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated mountain village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna's eyes we follow the story of the plague year,1666, as her fellow villagers make an extraordinary choice: convinced by a visionary young minister they elect to quarantine themselves within the village boundaries to arrest the spread of the disease. But as death reaches into every household, faith frays. When villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must confront the deaths of family, the disintegration of her community, and the lure of illicit love. As she struggles to survive, a year of plague becomes instead annus mirabilis, a "year of wonders."
Once again, an author has managed to blunderingly insert a modern mindset into a historical period, and has created a heroine who is a priceless superwoman as well. This book, based very loosely on real events in the 17th century, is a poorly veiled attempt at trumpeting the author's viewpoints and opinions. The ending is nothing more than the author showing off her knowledge of Islamic customs, while the writing it self leaves a lot to be desired. It is as thick and as uplifting as mud.
This book includes a heroine who is saintly, intellectually brilliant (she learns to read in a couple of months, learns Latin too, and becomes well versed in herbalism - I kept waiting for her to invent the airplane and penicillin) and remarkably resilient in the face of a village-wide plague. She nurses tirelessly, she overcomes personal tragedy, she has insight into the motivations and actions of people that Sigmund Freud would envy, she can mine lead and she can ride a highly spirited horse at a gallop sans saddle. All in all - absolutely unbelievable, particularly for the time period and the social status of the main character.
Add to that a feminist witch, abortion, women who don men's clothing and successfully mine lead in an afternoon though they have never done such work in their lives before, children's rights, alternative medicine, and wicked men who restrict and make miserable their wives and all other women within their sphere, this book is a nauseating airing of modern politically correct thought, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the mindset of the historical era it supposedly portrays. The smear campaign done on the character of the village minister (based on a real person) alone is such an act of libel that I'm surprised the real man's descendents haven't tried to sue Ms. Brooks. She has taken a selfless act on the part of a real person and his wife (who lost her life as a result of their determination to stay in the Plague Village rather than fleeing at the first sign of the plague) and turned it into a perverse attempt on the part of an evil man to punish his wife for having had a premarital affair and abortion.
The descriptions of horseback riding are absurd, and Ms. Brooks could have gotten more accurate information by speaking for fifteen minutes to any child in a pony club. Her grasp on herbalism is equally ridiculous - a few hours with any of hundreds of well-researched books on the subject would have helped her avoid a number of ridiculous gaffes.
And the ending, where the main character travels, on her own, with a newborn baby in tow, via ship, unmolested, to North Africa where she then enters into a platonic marriage with a great Muslim physician (who just happens to be conveniently right there) and becomes his assistant, helping Muslim women and living in his harem - well, it's the stuff of cruddy bodice rippers, and so strains the already insulted intelligence of the reader that high blood pressure is the result. How Ms Brooks thinks that anyone with any knowledge or capacity for critical thought would swallow this absurdity is beyond me. She seems to forget that her protagonist lives in a time where a woman would not have been permitted to travel alone or given passage on a ship by any captain at any price, and would most likely have been killed or sold into slavery had she actually managed to find her way to North Africa and walk around the streets in her English clothing.
This book is an insult to the real people of the Plague Village and their descendents. It is chock full of repulsive images that are obviously added simply for shock value, and go far beyond any realistic portrayal of plague symptoms or historical fact.
A New York Times and Washington Post Notoble Book, the former of which said, "...a glimpse into the strangeness of history that simultaneously enables us to see a reflection of ourselves." Author reveals how ignorance, hatred and mistrust can be as deadly as any virus.
This is a very slow moving book that begins from beginning to end. I am not a fan of the end of the story at the beginning. I am also not a fan of English literature or at least English stories. I am not sure why, but I have tried them a few times and just can never get it going. In any case, I gave it a good try, there are people on the wish list so I figure I have too many other books that I am very much looking forward to getting to. You just can't love them all! Even if it was highly recommended! I am sure that others will find it enjoyable.