- Paperback: 308 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (April 30, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0142001430
- ISBN-13: 978-0007743032
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,086 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague Paperback – April 30, 2002
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From The New Yorker
In 1665, the intense young pastor of a plague-stricken Derbyshire village persuades his parish to quarantine itself from the outside world. This selfless decision leads to the deaths of two-thirds of the inhabitants but saves the surrounding towns, as it did in the case of the historical village that inspired the tale. 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. Fear and despair fan the usual petty rivalries of village life into murderous hatreds, and the community fragments just when it should be pulling together. A rare few—including the narrator, a young widow who is a servant of the pastor—discover new strengths and abilities. When the epidemic is over, a year later, the survivors are too weary, damaged, and numb to rejoice.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
"The novel glitters . . . A deep imaginative engagement with how people are changed by catastrophe." —The New Yorker
"Year of Wonders is a vividly imagined and strangely consoling tale of hope in a time of despair." —O, The Oprah Magazine
"Brooks proves a gifted storyteller as she subtly reveals how ignorance, hatred and mistrust can be as deadly as any virus. . . . Year of Wonders is itself a wonder." —People
"A glimpse into the strangeness of history that simultaneously enables us to see a reflection of ourselves." —The New York Times Book Review
"Elegant and engaging." —Arthur Golden
"Year of Wonders has it all: strong characters, a trememdous sense of time and place, a clearly defined heroine and a dastardly villain." —The Denver Post
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I liked the writing style very much, apart from a bit of awkwardness at the beginning. The author did not make a huge attempt at sounding “period,” which was a good choice; the point of view was demarcated by what the first-person narrator was in a position to know and understand about her world, which set us sufficiently in context without the use of self-consciously obsolete phrasings. There was some lovely new vocabulary to learn—always a plus for me! And the descriptions were vivid and lyrical—and occasionally visceral, especially a scene in a mine.
For the most part, I felt the characters were well drawn and their actions made sense in context, though a few seemed to dance too much to the piping of the plot requirements. There were also a few more characters than could be followed with ease, though the number made sense because in a small village setting the heroine would naturally know everybody. The heroine’s religious skepticism seemed a little forced to me (and maybe too modern), but the idea that her faith was mostly a facet of her emotional attachments is psychologically plausible. As for the ending, which many reviewers have commented on, the first surprise made sense to me, but the final surprise seemed unnecessary and out of left field.
*Year of Wonders* took me deep into its world and held me there. But someone needs to solve the conundrum of how to create a heroine who is true to her age but still relatable to modern readers! The independent-spirited young woman has become cliché and no longer holds any mystery for the reader. Perhaps writers need to look for inspiration to the strengths of a Fanny Price or an Anne Elliot.
This tail had many twists that kept me reading well into the night to finish it and then the ending was such I was left thinking
about it and all it had to say about how people react when danger lurks.
I would recommend this book to readers who want to learn more about the bubonic plague and aren't interested in a fast read. This book takes time to read, especially in the middle when so many people are dying. Our book group found the story fascinating. The ending was my favorite part. The author did a superb job showing Anna's character arc. I loved the woman she became in the end. She was a true heroine.
The information in the back about the plague was also interesting, but many of us wished the author would have included the facts about the plague today. What we know today that we didn't know during the story's time. For instance, why did some people never contract the plague? Was it a genetic disposition? What research has been done on this? Is there a parallel to those people who are immune to HIV?
Most recent customer reviews
The unusual subject matter and style, somewhat ala Jane Austen, make this a worthwhile read. A good vacation/beach book.