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."Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged hill country of England, Year of Wonders is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history. Written with stunning emotional intelligence and introducing "an inspiring heroine" (The Wall Street Journal), Brooks blends love and learning, loss and renewal into a spellbinding and unforgettable read.
By "moonglow22" - August 1, 2001
When I was first given this book, I thought, "Oh great, a book about The Plague. How depressing." To be honest, if it had not been lent to me, i probably would not have even picked it up. But by the third page, I was hooked. Not only is the story, about a small English village that tries to control the spread of The Plague, brought in by a bolt of fabric, by quarantining themselves, it is the story of a remarkable woman, Anna Frith. Anna is a widow (her husband being killed before the Plague) who loses nearly everything-her children, her friends, her sanity-to this terrible disease. While The Plague ravages her friends and neighbors, Anna does everything she can to save them, and completes feats (midwifery, iron mining) that she never thought hersef capable of. The book is incredibly well written; Brooks uses the vernacular of the time to great effect, but in such a way that it seems completely normal. It sounds cliched, but I truly could not put this book down. A... read more
Evocative Historical Fiction Marred by Melodrama
By Rebecca Carpenter - September 11, 2001
There's a lot to like about Geraldine Brooks' _Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague_. At its best, this novel is an evocative, well-written historical fiction that skillfully conjures up the day-to-day hardships of living in a small village overrun by plague and watching two-thirds of your friends, family, and acquaintances die horrible deaths. I really liked the focus on the diurnal struggles of a village increasingly depleted of its human resources. What do you do when the women who always prepared herbal remedies are dead? When young children are left parentless? The main character, Anna Frith, is a strong woman and something of a feminist role model; the plague brings out resources in her that she didn't know she had.Unfortunately, this novel is itself infected in places by melodrama and purple prose. There are a couple of minor eruptions early in the novel, but the big problem for this book resides in the last 30-40 pages. If the novel had ended on page 272, it would... read more
A Study in Death
By Richard R. Peter - August 20, 2001
Based on an actual event and real persons, author Geraldine Brooks tells a fascinating tale of a village in rural 17th century England that experiences a sudden outbreak of plague. The citizens seal themselves off from the outside world to avoid spreading the disease to neighboring villages and to give themselves up to God's mercy. The "year of wonders" experienced by the residents of this stricken community is told through the eyes of an intelligent and couragous young widow, Anna Frith. Brooks' imagery is bright and alive - the reader experiences the sights and smells of this world, the hope and despair of the characters and the gradual disintegration of their faith. The plague brings out the noblest and the basest of human behavior and Anna herself achieves things she never would have attempted in any other circumstances. Because the majority of this book was so well written, I was quite disappointed in the ending which seemed rushed and contrived, almost as if the... read more
Wehrmacht officer Karl Bazinger is living the high life in Occupied Paris. But with his glamorous dinner companions and his open disdain for the Nazis, he begins to attract the attention of the SS. ...
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