R_Emrys, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by R_Emrys)
I put this off for a long time because the subject sounded so depressing. But the book is not depressing--Brooks has an amazing way with words, and characters, that is a delight even when the topic is grim. And she never loses sight of the little touches of humanity.
Terence Garth, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Terence Garth)
Geraldine Brooks introduces a remarkable female protagonist in the character of Anna Frith, who works as a housemaid in an English village in 1665. When her husband is killed in a coal mining accident, Anna's life becomes entwined with the lives of the village minister and his wife. After plague reaches the village, the visionary minister leads the villagers to a decision to quarantine the town to keep the sickness from spreading. During the "year of wonders," the village becomes a microcosm of the human condition, as Anna witnesses one death after another and sees where fear and temptation can drive people. Anna and all the characters are changed in different ways by the quarantine.
Basing the story on a true occurrence, the author provides the reader with just enough historical trappings to deliver the time and place. I found The Year of Wonders to be an amazing journey and an inspiring read.
nicole d, August 31, 2012 (view all comments by nicole d)
An interesting and enjoyable book. Being about the plague, you can guess going in that there are going to be a lot of deaths, but Brooks did a good job of demonstrating how the deaths affect the living. Some become religious zealots, some lose their religion, some turn to witchcraft, some become reclusive, some become more caring, etc. Given the fairly straightforward plot, the ending was surprising and had an interesting twist.
Rachel Coker, August 6, 2012 (view all comments by Rachel Coker)
This was a unique piece of historical fiction, focusing on a small village in England that falls victim to the Plague in 1666 and takes on a self-imposed quarantine. Geraldine Brooks skillfully weaves in a lot of detail about the everyday lives of women, of miners and even of clergymen in that period, without ever slowing down the story she's telling. The epilogue seemed a bit of a stretch, but I otherwise loved the book.
firemirage22, January 3, 2012 (view all comments by firemirage22)
Who knew that a book about the plague could be so amazing?! This is a novel about how a horrible experience can make a hero out of the most unlikely person. On the other hand, Anna Frith is a strong female character, so she's not that unlikely. The historical detail, the descriptions of nature & the village where Anna lives, the strong & often sympathetic characters, & a story that is thrilling despite its darkness, all make this a great read.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
"Review A Day"
by Suzy Hansen, Salon,
"The novel is filled with moments of compassion and sadness, as when Anna comes to terms with the lingering presence of the dead....Yet with the same steady hand Brooks uses to paint the beauty of the English countryside, she details the gruesome minutiae of the disease. No sooner do her descriptions of a mother's love for her child or a housewife's simple, daily chores lull and mesmerize, than Brooks pans the landscape, bestowing the same respectful observation on a putrid plague boil." (read the entire Salon review)
by The Guardian,
"Year of Wonders is a staggering fictional debut that matches journalistic accumulation of detail to natural narrative flair."
by Publishers Weekly,
"With an intensely observant eye, a rigorous regard for period detail, and assured, elegant prose, Brooks recreates a year in the life of a remote British village decimated by the bubonic plague....Brooks keeps readers glued through starkly dramatic episodes and a haunting story of flawed, despairing human beings. This poignant and powerful account carries the pulsing beat of a sensitive imagination and the challenge of moral complexity."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"Though the historical detail is absorbing, it is the story of Anna — her courage, her struggle to understand God's will — that is Brooks's most wondrous touch. A."
by The New Yorker,
"The novel glitters....A deep imaginative engagement with how people are changed by catastrophe."
by The New York Times Book Review,
"[A] vivid drama... Brooks has clearly done her homework... she gives us what we want from historical fiction: a glimpse into the strangeness of history that simultaneously enables us to see a reflection of ourselves."
by Los Angeles Times,
"Picturesque... evocative... impressively rendered... Brooks's portrait is as faithful as we can hope for."
by Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife and The Last Time They Met,
"Geraldine Brooks's Year of Wonders is a wonder indeed: a marriage of language and story unlike anything I have ever read. The novel gives the reader a remarkable glimpse into a 17th century horror, but does so with both compassion and exuberance. Read it for the inventiveness of the language alone a genuine treat."
"Beautiful... deeply moving."
by The Denver Post,
"A superb work of historical fiction."
by Chris Bohjalian, author of Midwives and Trans-Sister Radio,
"I honestly cannot recall the last time I read a novel as riveting, haunting, and authentically rendered as Year of Wonders. This book is astonishing, a small wonder itself."
In 1666, a young woman comes of age during an extraordinary year of love and death. Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a "plague village" in the rugged hill country of England, "Year of Wonders" is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history, written by the author of "Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women."
Unabridged CDs, 11 CDs, 9 hours
Read by TBA
In 1666, a young woman comes of age during an extraordinary year of love and death.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and eBooks — here at Powells.com.