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Year of Wonders

by Geraldine Brooks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,705411954 (3.96)721
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)
  1. 220
    Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (labfs39, wrmjr66, helgagrace)
  2. 61
    The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen (derelicious)
  3. 50
    World Without End by Ken Follett (GCPLreader)
  4. 40
    Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross (meggyweg)
  5. 30
    The Black Death: A Personal History by John Hatcher (meggyweg)
  6. 20
    Down the Common: A Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman by Ann Baer (Bookmarque)
  7. 31
    A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (jilld17)
  8. 10
    The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman (wordcauldron)
  9. 21
    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.
  10. 10
    Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Historical fiction that is even more about the plague, and equally compelling.
  11. 10
    Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Mopsy)
  12. 10
    The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic 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
  13. 10
    Restoration by Rose Tremain (kiwiflowa)
  14. 00
    A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe (ainsleytewce)
  15. 00
    A Poultice for a Healer by Caroline Roe (wordcauldron)
  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)
  17. 00
    Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan (wordcauldron)
    wordcauldron: A girl who outlives her parents during an influenza outbreak and encounters a deceitful plan by a couple that lost their daughter during the same outbreak.
  18. 00
    The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague by Dorsey Armstrong (wordcauldron)
    wordcauldron: Informative and intriguing university-level lecture about the plague. Sort of a micro history. Good for those who want some non-fiction about this topic!
  19. 00
    Revolutionary by Alex Myers (GreenVelvet)
    GreenVelvet: Detailed, meticulously-researched historical fiction with intelligent female protagonists, exploration of gender roles
  20. 11
    The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts 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.

(see all 22 recommendations)

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» See also 721 mentions

English (407)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (412)
Showing 1-5 of 407 (next | show all)
This was a great read, though pretty heavy and more than slightly depressing. Not one to read if you are going through a rough patch, unless that sort of thing helps you out of it! ( )
  BrandyWinn | Feb 2, 2024 |
The Black Death has always intrigued me, and this book was wonderful in how it explored the emotions attached to plague and the spreading of disease. The characters are especially enthralling, no doubt partly because they are based on real people. Highly recommend to those interested in history and social challenges brought on by disease. ( )
  CaeK | Jan 26, 2024 |
We listened to this on a trip across the Southwest. Geraldine Brooks read her own work to good effect. ( )
  jemisonreads | Jan 22, 2024 |
I came to this book by an NPR article discussing pandemic lit. It's a fictionalized tale of the real English town that, struck by plague in 1665, chose to sacrifice themselves by quarantining the town in hopes of preventing the spread of disease to their neighbors.

At least, that's the framework for the story, but the real story is its characters and how they respond to the crisis, how they endure or find strength or break as they lose their neighbors and loved ones. How for some, it's business and opportunism as usual as they use legal means to take a valuable mine from an orphaned child because her dead father can no longer work it or defend it, or price-gouging for grave-digging services when the church graveyard is full and there is a shortage of able-bodied men. How the taverns are always full and the fearful mob inevitably looks for witches to burn.

But it's also the story of neighbors looking out for each other, of a mother rising above the grief of her lost children to care for the dying and deliver the new babies when the doctors flee the town, of the religious leaders look past their fundamental differences to provide leadership to people in need, how a pastor and his wife work tirelessly to minister to the whole town, good or evil of spirit, deserving and undeserving.

There are some odd twists at the end that surprised and angered and disappointed me, but overall the story had me fascinated throughout.

Audiobook via Overdrive, and I strongly recommend you do NOT do this one on audio, because it's read by the author who may be a very good writer but is a terrible narrator, and yet I was so engaged with the story that even her droning voice couldn't put me off. ( )
  Doodlebug34 | Jan 1, 2024 |
It may be erroneous to say a work of historical fiction is prescient, but this 2001 novel took on new life in 2020. Based on the true story of the remote English village of Eyam that communally sacrificed itself during an outbreak of the bubonic plague in 1666, Year of Wonders is a miraculously beautiful novel. The characterization is rich and dimensional, with housemaid Anna Frith as a wonderfully developed (and developing) narrator. When the village rector convinces (most of) the village to self-quarantine from outlying towns, the loss is immense, but there is hope and growth and surprises. What is good and what is bad become murky and no one is immune from the challenges, even if they manage to stay healthy. The writing is extraordinary, wrapping in references to seventeenth-century village life and social structure without artifice. For all its graphic depiction of disease and childbirth, there is an underlying elegance which carries the reader along with just enough distance that we can understand 1666 to be 1918, or 2020, or whatever catastrophes we may face in the future. ( )
  rebcamuse | Dec 18, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 407 (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)
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brooks, Geraldineprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Diano, FrancescaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hodge, PatriciaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robert-Nicoud, ElieTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wahser, Eva L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
For Tony
Without you, I never would
have gone there.
First words
I used to love this season.
Quotations
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.
And so, as generally happens, those who have most give least, and those with less somehow make shrift to share.
Inasmuch as he knew what love meant, he knew he loved me, and all the more so when I gave him the boys.
This was no stealthy retreat. The Hall hummed like a struck hive.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Problem CK :
Date de première publication :
- 2001-06-05 (1e édition originale américaine)
- 2003-03-11 (1e traduction et édition française, Calmann-Lévy)
- 2004-12-02 (Réédition française, Domaine étranger, 10/18)
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

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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.

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