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Geraldine Brooks’s Year of Wonders describes the 17th-century plague that is carried from London to a small Derbyshire village by an itinerant tailor. As villagers begin, one by one, to die, the rest face a choice: do they flee their village in hope of outrunning the plague or do they stay? The lord of the manor and his family pack up and leave. The rector, Michael Mompellion, argues forcefully that the villagers should stay put, isolate themselves from neighboring towns and villages, and prevent the contagion from spreading. His oratory wins the day and the village turns in on itself. Cocooned from the outside world and ravaged by the disease, its inhabitants struggle to retain their humanity in the face of the disaster. The narrator, the young widow Anna Frith, is one of the few who succeeds. With Mompellion and his wife, Elinor, she tends to the dying and battles to prevent her fellow villagers from descending into drink, violence, and superstition. All is complicated by the intense, inexpressible feelings she develops for both the rector and his wife.

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Comments on: "Year of wonders – Geraldine Brooks" (6)

  1. Clare said:

    I read Year of Wonders as a part of my yr 12 English booklist, and I very much enjoyed it. I love anything in that medieval time period, and I have a morbid curiosity when it comes to the Plague, so the context of this book was perfect for me. I really loved Brooks’ writing style, which is quite lyrical and poetic, while also being emotive and realistic. I thought the main character, Anna, was very strong and inspiring. I liked how this book was gritty in the sense that it didn’t at all shy away from the true horrors of this time period, and it actually made me shudder in some points, something that doesn’t happen very often in books. The only critique I had was with one character’s ‘plot twist’, which I found a bit melodramatic and strange, and the epilogue, which although I liked it, was completely unrealistic and just did not make any sense given the time period/status of the main character. But other than that, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in that historical time period.

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  2. From the beginning this book interested me, as I have always found the topic of the plague quite interesting. The year of wonders novel gives quite a different and realistic approach of what it could have been like to live in a small village with the plague spreading. I found it at times quite frustrating, because at times they were wasting time on cures we know in modern times would not work to defend against a virus such as the plague. The language was a little but challenging but overall it was not too hard to read and enjoy. There were many different elements to this novel and it kept it quite interesting to see relationship developments, especially those through Anna and the Mompellions.
    Overall I rate this book 8/10.

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  3. I read this book for a Year 12 text and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked how it was easy to comprehend yet still so beautifully written. In the beginning I was worried that a book set back so early would be difficult to understand, especially in terms of context and dialogue between characters, however I was put at ease after the first chapter with very comprehensible dialogue. I like the use of a flashback and the bulk of the text, and I also very much like how the book ends, I think that it is quite fitting for Anna after the journey she had been through. My favourite character is Anys, even though (spoiler) she dies fairly early on, I respect her knowledge and understanding of her own value and the way in which she demonstrates this when speaking to others. I believe Anna learns a lot from her in the beliefs she should have about herself and other people. This is an excellent book that provides a great understanding of the Plague’s impacts on a village, and I would highly recommend it to anyone that seeks a relaxing, beautifully written text. 9/10

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  4. Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks
    I do not think that I will ever finish pondering the thoughts and questions that this novel leaves you trying to grasp. Personally, I loved this book, with it’s surprises, twists and turns, punctuated by Anna Frith’s profound feelings, thoughts and learnings, so much so that I could never choose a favourite part of the book. Although I do have to stereotypically say that I adored the ending! I could also not possibly find a part that I would change, or a part that I did not like as everything seems to happen for a reason, and it is beautifully balanced. Whilst reading the novel, I found myself in admiration of Elinor Mompellion, the kindly, gracious and generous rector’s wife. She lead a troubled life, and yet continuously tried her very hardest to help those around her, from being a friend to Anna to sitting at the bedsides of the dying. As much as I loved Elinor, I found myself relating most to Anna, with her protective and caring personality. Although this may not be a book for everyone, I would definitely recommend it and it leaves you tackling some large thoughts, feelings and new understandings, and I believe that this makes it a very worthwhile read. I think that this novel is suited most to those who like to be up late turning the pages continually because you’re desperate to know what happens in the small village ravaged by plague. In all seriousness though, I think that it would be a great book for anyone who is looking for reason and knowledge in books, people in search of a romance-historical(ish) kind of book and anybody in favour of an emotional rollercoaster that will have you in tears of sadness and grieving one moment then pure joy the next.

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  5. Grace said:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I read it as a year 12 english text and found the storyline engaging and relatively easy to follow. I really enjoyed this book because the storyline was interesting and the use of descriptive language is done very well. The book is very well written and not too long. It is set in the 1600s and although some of the language used can be a little difficult to understand, it doesn’t stop you from being able to comprehend what is going on, and enjoy the novel.
    My favourite part of the book is the ending (which you have to read to find out about). It is a fantastic and uplifting way to end this novel.
    My favourite character is Elinor Mompellion. She is so kind and understanding and I particularly loved reading about how the dynamics of the friendship between Elinor and Anna develop.
    Although this novel is set in the era of the black plague, many of the characters are easy to relate to and have qualities similar to the everyday person. You are able to relate to the moral dilemmas many face and wonder what you would do. As a reader you are also able to form your own kind of friendship with the characters.
    I really enjoyed the whole novel. I have read it twice and enjoyed it equally both times. I am not sick of it yet!!
    I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good piece of reading. Due to some of the language used I think this novel best suits 15+ year olds and I would rate it 9/10 🙂

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  6. Year of wonders’ by Geraldine Brookes is a great novel. At first I found that I struggled to get in to the story line but as major events and horrific incidents started to occur I found myself struggling to put the book down! I don’t think I could pick just one favourite part to this book; however I enjoyed watching the main character, Anna Frith, as she went not only on a life saving adventure, but an adventure that would change her life forever! My least favourite part would have been seeing Anna’s ‘master’ and best friend Elinor die. After everything that they had been through together in the book it was an unexpected twist to the story. My favourite characters in ‘Year of Wonders’ would have been Anna and Elinor. This is because they helped give the story the loving touch that it had, even though it was packed with horror, heartache and loss, they helped to keep the a soft humane touch to events. I wouldn’t want to change anything about this book. Although it is sad and there are lots of horrible things that happen, in the end the good and bad things balance each other out and the book has a fitting ending. I would recommend this book to everybody! It was so good and even though I had to study it I never got sick of reading it and would still read it again and again! 🙂 I rate it 9/10

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