Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague – Geraldine Brooks

About the book

When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, 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 confront the spread of disease and superstition. 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.”

Reviewed by Hayling Reading Group:

This is an impressive first novel, set in Derbyshire in the 17th Century at the time of the Plague. A charismatic rector persuades the villagers to isolate themselves to prevent it spreading. A gripping read, if sometimes dark and disturbing will keep the reader enthralled.

Rating: ****

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15 thoughts on “Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague – Geraldine Brooks”

  1. Review by Yateley Library Reading Group:
    We all loved this book. History, interesting subject, good research, believable characters, emotional, gripping, fascinating. Only the end let it down, could have finished earlier and still been a great book.
    Star rating: Not given

  2. Review by Abbots Ann WI Reading Group:
    Enjoyed this book more than expected – well researched – ending surprising as the book was vividly written and graphically yet calmly described
    Star rating: ****

  3. Review by Liss Reading Group :
    Enjoyed by all – a good read – the ending out of character. Good use of vocabulary.
    Star rating: ***

  4. Review by Weston Readers:
    Whole group enjoyed this book – the story, the use of language, the images, the descriptions, ideas and emotions.
    Star rating: ****

  5. Review by Selborne Book Circle:
    Geraldine Brooks had done extensive research into the plague, the symptoms and effect on a small community. Her descriptive style was well liked by most members but all of us felt that the book lost credulity two thirds of the way through. The ending being implausible. A book worth reading and discussing.
    Star rating: ***

  6. Review by Hedge End WI Reading Group:
    Generally enjoyed although harrowing. Good atmosphere. The two main women characters strong. The ending spoiled the book because it was unbelievable, also so much occurred to several characters it appeared very rushed.
    Star rating: ***

  7. Review by Petersfield U3A Group1:
    Beautifully written with good period detail. The factual element was pleasing and everyone enjoyed it.
    Star rating: ***

  8. Review by Boaters Book Club:
    We considered it well researched, a good read with good language usage and descriptions. We liked the characters, their attitudes, social norms and their relationships. We also enjoyed the period of time, the witches, the plague descriptions, aspects of the church and faith. Although all enjoyed it most didn’t like the ending.
    Star rating: ***

  9. Review by Accentors Reading Group:
    Geraldine Brooks’ research into the plague at Eyam is very impressive. The book is beautifully written especially the descriptions of the landscape around the village. Everyone in the group thought the last part of the book implausible. However, there was plenty of scope for group discussion.
    Star rating: ***

  10. Review by Elson Readers Reading Group:
    A wonderful book enjoyed by the majority of readers. Well researched re: historical element. Brilliantly written use of 17th Century prose. Could have done with a glossary.
    Star rating: ****

  11. Review by New Forest/Waterside U3A Reading Group:
    The general opinion is of a book well worth reading for the second time. Deeply drawn characters, beautifully written descriptive passages of the countryside lift it above the ordinary. Drawing together a strange mixture of superstition, religious observance of the time, folklore and common sense the author with imaginative skill has given us a compelling story of a dark period in English history. The main character carries us through what is a grizzly story and although the resolution of Anna’s personal problems calls for the suspension fo belief…just a bit, this is a good read.
    Star rating: ****

  12. Review by Entre Nous Reading Group:
    A very well written, researched novel of the plague, told through the eyes of Anna against the backdrop of the mining village of Eyam where the villagers made the decision to quarantine themselves in order to prevent the plague spreading. Highly recommended.
    Star rating: ***

  13. Review by Entre Nous Reading Group:
    A very well written, researched novel of the plague, told through the eyes of Anna against the backdrop of the mining village of Eyam where the villagers made the decision to quarantine themselves in order to prevent the plague spreading. Highly recommended.
    Star rating: ***

  14. Review by Andover HIP Reading Group
    Very good with interesting characters and attitudes. Well written and flows well.
    Rating: ****

  15. Fareham 5:30 Redaing Group – We all enjoyed this book. There was disagreement about the ending – how plausible, had the heronine trapped herself again. But many of us saw this book as an interesting exploration of the many strong women in the book. 3 to 4 staqrs

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