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Year of Wonders

Cover of Year of Wonders

Year of Wonders

A Novel of the Plague

When the plague visits an isolated village in the English countryside, 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 endure a self-imposed quarantine to keep the disease from spreading. 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 the village of Eyam, Year of Wonders is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history. With stunning emotional intelligence, Brooks blends love and learning, loss and renewal, into a spellbinding and unforgettable read.

When the plague visits an isolated village in the English countryside, 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 endure a self-imposed quarantine to keep the disease from spreading. 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 the village of Eyam, Year of Wonders is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history. With stunning emotional intelligence, Brooks blends love and learning, loss and renewal, into a spellbinding and unforgettable read.

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About the Author-
  • Geraldine Brooks is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March, Year of Wonders, and People of the Book and the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. She was previously a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East. Born and raised in Australia, she lives on Martha's Vineyard with her husband, Tony Horwitz, and their two sons.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 25, 2001
    Discriminating readers who view the term historical novel with disdain will find that this debut by praised journalist Brooks (Foreign Correspondence) is to conventional work in the genre as a diamond is to a rhinestone. With an intensely observant eye, a rigorous regard for period detail, and assured, elegant prose, Brooks re-creates a year in the life of a remote British village decimated by the bubonic plague. Inspired by the actual town commemorated as Plague Village because of the events that transpired there in 1665–1666, Brooks tells her harrowing story from the perspective of 18-year-old Anna Frith, a widow with two young sons. Anna works as a maid for vicar Michael Mompellion and his gentle, selfless wife, Elinor, who has taught her to read. When bubonic plague arrives in the community, the vicar announces it as a scourge sent by God; obeying his command, the villagers voluntarily seal themselves off from the rest of the world. The vicar behaves nobly as he succors his dwindling flock, and his wife, aided by Anna, uses herbs to alleviate their pain. As deaths mount, however, grief and superstition evoke mob violence against "witches," and cults of self-flagellation and devil worship. With the facility of a prose artist, Brooks unflinchingly describes barbaric 17th-century customs and depicts the fabric of life in a poor rural area. If Anna's existential questions about the role of religion and ethical behavior in a world governed by nature seem a bit too sophisticated for her time, Brooks keeps readers glued through starkly dramatic episodes and a haunting story of flawed, despairing human beings. This poignant and powerful account carries the pulsing beat of a sensitive imagination and the challenge of moral complexity. (Aug. 6)Forecast:Brooks should be a natural on talk shows as she tells of discovering the town of Eyam, in Derbyshire, in 1990, and her research to unearth its remarkable history. With astute marketing, Viking will have a winner here. BOMC, Literary Guild and QPB featured alternates; 8-city author tour; rights sold in England, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

  • New Yorker "The novel glitters with careful research into such arcana as seventeenth-century lead-mining, sheep-farming, and, of course, medicine, but its true strength is a deep imaginative engagement with how people are changed by catastrophe."
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Year of Wonders
Year of Wonders
A Novel of the Plague
Geraldine Brooks
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