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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


Anne Brooke said...

This is so true - I absolutely LOVED this book - it gripped me from the start and I couldn't put it down. I loved the heroine and the whole situation is so sad. We'd actually been to Eyam as well, so it resonated more, I think.


Annie said...

I thought the language and sense of period felt really authentic. I cared about the characters and was horrified at the way some of the characters were treated. It stayed with me for ages after I'd finioshed it as well - which I think is always a sign of a really good book.
Thanks for the chat!

Annie said...

I've just read several reviews on Amazon about this book and without wishing to enter a discussion that might include spoilers, I was surprised at the amount of comments about the ending. I just wondered what other people thought about a story changing direction at the end - not just this book, but in general - would you feel cheated, as some people did with this book, or do you think it adds to the experience, widening the horizons at the conclusion of a story?