This was Geraldine Brooks’ first novel. She is the also the author of the Pulitzer winner March, a fictional account of Mr. March from Little Women. I read March earlier this year, and while I believe Brooks to be a good writer, I had some issues with her portrayal of the Marches in her book. I feel much the same in this book. It has very good writing, but once again, I have issues. This time it is in matters of faith and religion.
Year of Wonders is the story of a village that is ravaged by The Plague in 1666. Anna is a widow who is a servant for the rector in her village. She becomes very close to Mr. Mompellion and his wife, Elinor. When The Plague hits and they quarantine the village, the three of them are the mainstays who help and comfort the sick and dying. It is a terrible year, and Brooks’ descriptions of The Plague were painful to read. At the close of the year, some are strengthened by their trials and others are utterly devastated by them. What makes this book so special is that it is based on a true story of the village of Eyam, Derbyshire. They voluntarily quarantined their village when the disease hit, and it would become known as The Plague Village. They are remembered as having attempted to stop the spread of disease by this action.
It’s too difficult to go into my issues with the book on matters of faith without divulging too much of the storyline, so I won’t do so. I am still glad I read the novel as it is a fascinating period in history, and it is all the more interesting for having been based on Eyam. I plan on reading her novel People of the Book when it comes out next month.
2001, 304 pp.