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Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Year of Wonders (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Geraldine Brooks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,175280660 (3.97)531
Title:Year of Wonders
Authors:Geraldine Brooks
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2002), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Own, Historical Fiction, Culture-British, Plague, Ang, November 2012

Work details

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (2001)

  1. 180
    Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (labfs39, wrmjr66, helgagrace)
  2. 50
    The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen (derelicious)
  3. 40
    Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross (meggyweg)
  4. 40
    World Without End by Ken Follett (GCPLreader)
  5. 30
    The Black Death: A Personal History by John Hatcher (meggyweg)
  6. 20
    A Parcel of Patterns by Jill Paton Walsh (SylviaC)
    SylviaC: A book for younger readers about the same plague outbreak in the same town. It is interesting to compare the two stories.
  7. 20
    The Crucible by Arthur Miller (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks may be paired with The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
  8. 20
    Down the Common: A Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman by Ann Baer (Bookmarque)
  9. 31
    A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (jilld17)
  10. 10
    Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Mopsy)
  11. 10
    Restoration by Rose Tremain (kiwiflowa)
  12. 10
    The Great Mortality by John Kelly (bluepolicebox)
  13. 10
    The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry (labfs39)
    labfs39: For a non-fiction account of the 1918 pandemic that many thought was the Black Plague come again
  14. 00
    The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  15. 00
    Revolutionary by Alex Myers (GreenVelvet)
    GreenVelvet: Detailed, meticulously-researched historical fiction with intelligent female protagonists, exploration of gender roles
  16. 00
    The Horseman on the Roof by Jean Giono (caittilynn)
    caittilynn: I couldn't find the title listed in English, but the Horseman on the Roof tells the story of a young man traveling through the Provence region of France when there is an epidemic of cholera and he is suddenly forced to deal with death, opportunism and fearful townspeople.… (more)

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English (278)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  German (1)  All languages (281)
Showing 1-5 of 278 (next | show all)
LMIC book club; novel about how one town contains the plague by isolating themselves from their neighbors; protagonist is Anna, a woman who takes in the tailor who brings the plague to the town on an infected bolt of cloth, and shows how all the villagers react to this disease in positive and negative ways. purchased book for TLC book club 10/08 selection ( )
  nancynova | Sep 12, 2015 |
This is the third book by Geraldine Brooks that I have read, and the only one that I listened to. Perhaps it was the reader, who did an excellent job, but I like it much better than the other two. Like most of this author's work, it is based on historical facts.
The historical facts: In the 1660's there was a small village in England that suffered an outbreak of the Plague. It began when a tailor received a large shipment of cloth from London that harbored plague infested fleas. The minister of the village convinced the villagers that for the safety of surrounding areas, they should quarantine themselves. No one could enter or leave the village. (He had already sent his own children to safety.) Arrangements were made to have supplies left at the edge of the village. A hole was chiseled out of a large rock and filled with vinegar at the site to leave payment for goods delivered. It was believed that vinegar killed the plague. The Church was closed and Sunday services were held in a glen where people could stay far away from each other. The quarantine was “successful” in that neighboring villages were spared, but more than half of the population of the town died from the plague.
The fictional story builds on these facts and focuses on the minister (who is childless in the novel), his wife and their maid who is the narrator of this work. The story is horrifying in many aspects. The description of death and the actions of villagers in response to it are often quite vivid and depressing. But the story also shows the incredible, sometimes unbelievable, strength and love that certain individuals exhibited during this time. In counterpoint, it also showed how others showed such incredibly evil tendencies, profiting from the deaths and stealing from the deceased. The frustration of those few who sought to care for the ill and stop the spread of the illness was compounded by the lack of medical knowledge and the superstitions that abounded at the time. I found the ending chapter somewhat predictable, but I would still recommend the book – depressing, but worth it!
( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
Loved this book! A look into rural England in the 1660,s, when a plague ridden town makes a decision to quarantine itself. ( )
  elsyd | May 30, 2015 |
This story is set in the 1600's in England during a plague and is a work of fiction but based on a real village that chose to quarantine itself. I really liked the story of Anna, a young woman who lost her husband in a mining accident and both her boys to plague. She is a very strong character. I liked the priest and his wife Eleanor who I also thought were well developed characters. The author, is a new to me author. I've not read anything until now by Geraldine Brooks and was impressed with the quality of her writing. I do have to say though, I think she should not read her own books. I got used to her voice and probably am not as particular as some people but I felt she did her book a disservice by reading it herself. I enjoyed how the author took this microcosm to show how people reacted to plagues. I think there was a lot of factual information presented. Where I find fault is with the ending. It made no sense to me why she had to have Anna go to an Arab country. I also felt the ending was a personal agenda for the author. No one who knows me will be surprised that I did not like the ending. Still, the author is a strong writer. Her characters are well developed and interesting and I will read more even if I disagree with her. I really appreciated the strong female characters, the look at early medicine. Medicine and healing was a woman's domain. Men entered it much later when it became an industry of profit. This story was great, I liked it and would have loved if she would have ended it differently. ( )
  Kristelh | May 8, 2015 |
i really enjoyed this story - i was totally immersed in the book, and the time and setting brooks is writing about. i have an interest in illness in literature, and i am also a fan of historical fiction, so this was a great double-shot for me.

previously, i have only read march from brooks. i loved that novel so, so much i have been hesitant to try any of her other novels because i didn't want to be disappointed. (we readers have some serious book problems!) meanwhile, i have accumulated all of her novels and some of her nonfiction too... and they have been sitting on my shelves for too long, in some cases.

so i am glad i finally bucked up and read year of wonders. there were a couple of things that i wasn't totally keen on: the use of 'myself', and the peculiar ending. i have read a few reviews since finishing the read, and i noticed many people hated the ending. while i didn't hate it, it did seem... odd. and it almost sets things up for a part two (which i would totally read!)

while a novel about the bubonic plague is not going to be a sunshine-and-lollipops bit of reading, brooks did a great job highlighting small joys and lovely moments of hope. i also liked how she had several related peaks of action within the village that kept the pace of the read moving quite quickly.

what i really love is the way brooks writes such strong female characters and is all about female empowerment. the friendship that develops between anna (main character) and elinor was lovely and nuanced. it's hard to find accurate depictions of female friendship in literature, so i really liked this aspect of the story too. ( )
1 vote Booktrovert | Apr 20, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 278 (next | show all)
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. With an intensely observant eye, a rigorous regard for period detail, and assured, elegant prose, Brooks re-creates a year in the life of a remote British village decimated by the bubonic plague.
added by lucyknows | editSCIS (pay site)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Geraldine Brooksprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brooks, GeraldineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diano, FrancescaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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O let it be enough what thou hast done,
When spotted deaths ran arm'd through every street,
With poison'd darts, which not the good could shun,
The speedy could outfly, or valiant meet.

The living few, and frequent funerals then,
Proclaim'd thy wrath on this forsaken place:
And now those few who are return'd agen
Thy searching judgments to their dwellings trace.

- From Annus Mirabilis, The Year of Wonders, 1666, by John Dryden
For Tony
Without you, I never would
have gone there.
First words
I used to love this season.
Good yield does not come without suffering, it does not come without struggle, and toil, and yes, loss.
God warns us not to love any earthly thing above Himself, and yet He sets in a mother's heart such a fierce passion for her babes that I do not comprehend how He can test us so.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
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 housebold, faith frays. When villagers turn from prayers and herbal cures to sorcery and murderous witch-hunting, Anna must confront the deaths of family, the disintegration of her community, and the lure of a dangerous and illicit love. As she struggles to survive, a year of plague becomes, instead, annus mirablilis, a "year of wonders."

Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged mountain spine of England, Year of Wonders is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history. Written with stunning emotional intelligence and hailed as an "astonishing re-creation of how it felt to be a victim and survivor of the year of wonders and horrors," the novel examines the collision of faith, science, and superstition at the cusp of the modern era. Exploring love and learning, loss and renewal, Year of Wonders succeeds as a spellbinding work of historical fiction and an unforgettable read.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142001430, Paperback)

Geraldine Brooks's Year of Wonders describes the 17th-century plague that is carried from London to a small Derbyshire village by an itinerant tailor. As villagers begin, one by one, to die, the rest face a choice: do they flee their village in hope of outrunning the plague or do they stay? The lord of the manor and his family pack up and leave. The rector, Michael Mompellion, argues forcefully that the villagers should stay put, isolate themselves from neighboring towns and villages, and prevent the contagion from spreading. His oratory wins the day and the village turns in on itself. Cocooned from the outside world and ravaged by the disease, its inhabitants struggle to retain their humanity in the face of the disaster. The narrator, the young widow Anna Frith, is one of the few who succeeds. With Mompellion and his wife, Elinor, she tends to the dying and battles to prevent her fellow villagers from descending into drink, violence, and superstition. All is complicated by the intense, inexpressible feelings she develops for both the rector and his wife. Year of Wonders sometimes seems anachronistic as historical fiction; Anna and Mompellion occasionally appear to be modern sensibilities unaccountably transferred to 17th-century Derbyshire. However, there is no mistaking the power of Brooks's imagination or the skill with which she constructs her story of ordinary people struggling to cope with extraordinary circumstances. --Nick Rennison, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:22 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

This gripping historical novel is based on the true story of Eyam, the "Plague Village," in the rugged mountain spine of England. In 1666, a tainted bolt of cloth from London carries bubonic infection to this isolated settlement of shepherds and lead miners. A visionary young preacher convinces the villagers to seal themselves off in a deadly quarantine to prevent the spread of disease. The story is told through the eyes of eighteen-year-old Anna Frith, the vicar's maid, as she confronts the loss of her family, the disintegration of her community, and the lure of a dangerous and illicit love. As the death toll rises and people turn from prayers and herbal cures to sorcery and murderous witch-hunting, Anna emerges as an unlikely and courageous heroine in the village's desperate fight to save itself.… (more)

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