Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague

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9780670910212: Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague

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.

Exploring love and learning, fear and fanaticism, and the struggle of science and religion to interpret the world at the cusp of the modern era, Year of Wonders is at once a story of unconventional love and a richly detailed evocation of a riveting moment in history. Like Arthur Golden's Memories of a Geisha and A. S. Byatt's Posession, Year of Wonders blends learning and romance into an unforgettable read.

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Review:

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

From the Back Cover:

"Geraldine Brooks's Year of Wonders is a wonder indeed: a marriage of language and story unlike anything I have ever read. The novel gives the reader a remarkable glimpse into a 17th century horror, but does so with both compassion and exuberance. Read it for the inventiveness of the language alone -- a genuine treat." (Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife and The Last Time They Met)

"Geraldine Brooks' impressive first novel goes well beyond chronicling the devastation of a plague-ridden village. It leaves us with the memory of vivid characters struggling in timeless human ways with the hardships confronting them-and the memory, too, of an elegant and engaging story." Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha

"I honestly cannot recall the last time I read a novel as riveting, haunting, and authentically rendered as Year of Wonders. This book is astonishing, a small wonder itself." (Chris Bohjalian, author of Midwives and Trans-Sister Radio)

"Witch-like, Geraldine Brooks transports the reader to a small English village of the 1660s where over half the population is succumbing to the plague. As alive as a Breugel painting, Year of Wondersoffers the vitality and variety of lives strangely like our own--precious and passionate. An unforgettable read, this splendid novel enriches our human memory of both despair and courage."(Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife; or, the Star-Gazer)

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Geraldine Brooks
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ISBN 10: 067091021X ISBN 13: 9780670910212
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