2010-03 Book Club

What: Year of wonders by Geraldine Brooks

When: March 24, 19:30

Where: Bistro Lochergut

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 the hope of outrunning the plague or do they stay? The lord of the manor and his family pack and leave. The rector, Michael Mompellion, argues forcefully that the villagers should stay put, isolate themselves from neighbouring 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, a young widow called Anna Frith, is one of the few who succeeds. Together with Mompellion and his wife Elinor, she tends the dying and battles to prevent her fellow villagers from descending into drink, violence and superstition. All is complicated by the intense, unacknowledgeable feelings she develops for both the rector and his wife. Year of Wonder sometimes seems anachronistic as historical fiction. Anna and Mompellion can occasionally appear to be modern sensibilities unaccountably transferred to 17th-century Derbyshire. However there is no mistaking the power of Brooks’s imagination or the skill with which she constructs her story of ordinary people struggling to cope with extraordinary circumstances. – Nick Rennison

Suggested by Chrissie. Additional supporters: Valpuri, Alex, Nanda, Karina, Robert

Related reading, suggested by Alex:

The Plague by Albert CamusThe Plague on Wikipedia



I liked the book but I feel like the book should have ended with the plague and Anna moving away. The strange reveal at the end and her ending up in Oran was weird. Then again... Oran. La Peste, right? Other than that, I thought the language was wonderful, taking me back and confusing me just enough to let me know this is a different time we’re talking about. I also felt that the first person perspective was well executed.

AlexSchroeder 2010-02-22 11:25 UTC

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