I read this years ago – probably when it was first released – and I know I enjoyed it and I consider it to be my favourite Geraldine Brooks novel. When I saw it as an audio book (read by the author) on Borrowbox, I had to re-visit it.
Here’s the blurb …
An unforgettable tale, set in 17th century England, of a village that quarantines itself to arrest the spread of the plague, from the author The Secret Chord and of March , winner of the Pulitzer Prize
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.”
Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged hill country of England, Year of Wonders is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history. Written with stunning emotional intelligence and introducing “an inspiring heroine” ( The Wall Street Journal ), Brooks blends love and learning, loss and renewal into a spellbinding and unforgettable read.
It’s extraordinary how little of this novel I remembered. It is also very interesting to read this in a Covid (post-covid) world. This village isolates itself so as not to spread the plague, they move church services to outside and stand at a distance from each other – that’s all very familiar.
It’s beautifully written with lots of lovely period detail (but blended into the story). I particularly enjoyed all of the domestic details and the herb remedies. There is also a lot of death (from the plague and otherwise), religion ( was the plague god’s judgement for their sins), selfishness and superstitions.