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Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Year of Wonders (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Geraldine Brooks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,601319573 (3.97)557
Title:Year of Wonders
Authors:Geraldine Brooks
Info:Harpercollins Pb (2002), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Kindle, DCPL
Tags:2012, Fiction, 1600s, England, Plague, Quarantine

Work details

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (2001)

  1. 200
    Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (labfs39, wrmjr66, helgagrace)
  2. 50
    World Without End by Ken Follett (GCPLreader)
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  5. 30
    The Black Death: A Personal History by John Hatcher (meggyweg)
  6. 20
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  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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  10. 31
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    Restoration by Rose Tremain (kiwiflowa)
  12. 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
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    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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    GreenVelvet: Detailed, meticulously-researched historical fiction with intelligent female protagonists, exploration of gender roles

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» See also 557 mentions

English (318)  Dutch (1)  All (1)  German (1)  All (321)
Showing 1-5 of 318 (next | show all)
great book, evocative writing, moving story, much information about the plague in 1665.
Really looking forward to visiting Eyam in June. ( )
  siri51 | Jan 9, 2017 |
I enjoyed this vivid and engrossing historical novel. It is based on the true story of a small town in England that contracted plague during 1665 and made the heroic decision to seal itself off from the outside in order to prevent the plague from spreading to its neighbors. Geraldine Brooks writes beautifully and reminds me of Hardy in her descriptions of village life and in her portraits of the villagers, all of who depend on their neighbors for survival.

A village is an efficient organism and every person, however seemingly insignificant, plays some small part to keep it working. Illness or death has the potential to quickly upset the delicate balance that holds things together. Year of Wonders charts the slow and steady unraveling of the village as the plague chews it way through every family and every house.

The story is told from the point of view of a young woman who serves the village priest and his wife and who works with them to try and prevent the spread of the disease and ease the suffering of its victims. Brooks, through the eyes of our narrator, casts a keen and sympathetic portrait of the villagers and of the small details of their lives.

Most historical novels honor the prevailing dictum that authenticity be established with some use of period dialect and detail even if the story must be told using todays language. Brooks, however, immerses the reader in 17th century England with language that sounds pitch-perfect for its time and an attention to detail that displays an extraordinary amount of research.

The novel is well plotted and moves quickly even though the reader is encountering strange and arcane terms in just about every sentence. Brooks writes with such sympathy for her characters and with such deep knowledge of the time and place that I had that wonderful feeling of being a visitor to a different world.

Year of Wonders reminds me of two of my favorite historical novels, In A Dark Wood Wandering by Hella Haasse and The Abyss by Marguerite Yourcenar both of which, like Year, are deeply researched and fully imagined stories by gifted writers that transcend the typical historical novel. If you have read either Dark Wood or The Abyss, I suspect you will really like Year of Wonders.

Like other readers, I have a problem with the ending that for me simply didn’t ring true. It is as if the writer just ran out of gas and took an overly dramatic turn (or a nod to Hollywood) in a way that feels false. In any event, it was a minor letdown from a book that is a terrific debut novel.

If Brooks continues her craft of deep research and outstanding writing, she won’t have a large body of work but will stand out as among the very best of historical fiction authors. Those of us who love historical fiction will all be the better for it.

( )
  blnq | Dec 27, 2016 |
One of my all time favorite books. I could read this every year. I have read all of her other books except "Caleb's Crossing" (which is on my list), and this is stil my favorite. ( )
  Juliasb | Dec 1, 2016 |
This is the book that got me back into reading. Not that I don't always read, so I should say, this is the book that got me back into actually finishing something.

I found the book well paced, though others have said the book was a bit slow at times, I found it flowed nicely. I had never heard of this story before, so I couldn't attest to how historically accurate it was, but it was one of those books that made you think a little. ( )
  anastaciaknits | Oct 29, 2016 |
I did read this book a while ago (2003, I believe), however I just got it back and I want to reread it. Since I never added it to my "read" books, I don't consider this cheating. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 318 (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
Brooks, Geraldineprimary authorall 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 (1)

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)

(summary from another edition)

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