e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

‘Year of Wonders: a novel of the plague’ by Geraldine Brooks

When a member of my book group recommended Year of Wonders, I thought it would be depressing and upsetting. It’s true that some of the scenes are harrowing – the descriptions of plague symptoms are very vivid – but the basic idea is uplifting.

When, in 1665, the plague arrived in their village, the people of Eyam in Derbyshire cut themselves off from the world in order to protect others. This added to their own suffering, but many of them were buoyed up by the knowledge they were doing right. Sadly, others couldn’t take the strain and there are several scenes of madness.

The book is all the more powerful because it’s based on a true event.

On Goodreads there are thousands of reviews. The couple that I read both complained at the ending. I’m still trying to make up my mind if I agree with them. I think that spending a few paragraphs describing the rest of the main character’s life is unbalanced and sort of unnecessary, but on the other hand it’s natural to want to know what became of her.

I shall certainly read more of Geraldine Brooks’ novels.

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