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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Year of Wonders
by Geraldine Brooks
I was lent this by a friend with the recommendation; ‘I don’t read many books, but this one was just so beautiful, you’ve got to read it, I loved it.’
It is set in 1666 in a Derbyshire village called Eyam (pronounced Eem) during the Great Plague. Based on a true story, it shows how the villagers cut themselves off from the outside world to prevent the spread of the disease to the surrounding area. The book contemplates science and religion; grief, friendship and love, relationships under pressure and disintegration of the community as they face the devastation of an almost unstoppable disease. The growth of mistrust and even violence is shown to be inevitable and largely unavoidable and there are some fascinating twists and turns in the community’s behaviour and interactions.
It is a beautifully written book, the first work of fiction from its foreign correspondent author. The sense of place is evoked so clearly and the characters so truthfully, that I found I raced through it to find out what happened next. I would recommend the book heartily and would love to hear what other people thought of it.
reviewed by Annie Smith