Saturday, 2 June 2012

Review: Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

This book is tells events that took place in England in 1666 , the bubonic plague that killed 100,000 people followed by "The Great Fire of London" which destroyed 80% of London. I thought the book had a great pace, since the title is "Year of Wonders," it set up a timeframe right away. 

Year of Wonders is set in a small English town 100 miles outside of London. It's the year 1666, and the town has been struck by plague, brought to them by a London tailor boarding with the narrator, Anna. The village is so remote that when the plague first appears the villagers don't recognize it for what it is. Once they learn the horrors of the disease, the villagers are asked to make a decision whether to flee in order to save themselves, or to stay put in order to keep the disease from spreading any further.

In the end, everyone in the village agrees to stay, aside from the only rich family in town - the only family with the means to run far from the reaches of the disease. As the year goes on Anna transforms a strong woman who the town begins to depend on for herbal remedies.

I was quite shocked how much I loved this book, it was well written and extremly hard to put down, I was able to read it in only a few hours! I loved how much information Brooks  packed into the book. I learnt quite a bit about the 
bubonic plague and how easy it was to take in all the information. Brooks is an amazing writer since she uses terms that we can understand, [no need to google while reading this book!]

I was also shocked Brooks made women so independent in a novel about the 17th century, but in the interviews with her in the back of the book Brooks explained the necessity of women taking a leading role during that time and the fact that women were starting to gain more freedom during that century in England.

When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna's eyes we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition. As death reaches into every household and villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must find the strength to confront the disintegration of her community and the lure of illicit love. As she struggles to survive and grow, a year of catastrophe becomes instead annus mirabilis, a "year of wonders."

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I would definitely recommend it, especially to people who enjoy historical novels. People who enjoyed this would also enjoy The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory.

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