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Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  90,470 ratings  ·  6,833 reviews
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In Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks chronicles life in a tiny English village in the year 1666. What makes this "year of wonders" so fascinating is that it was the year in which an outbreak of bubonic plague struck England. Brooks's novel is based on the historical village of Eyam in the Pennine Mountains, whose denizens were c
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Published October 1st 2010 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 2001)
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Rarely has a book so captivated and then disappointed me with such a 180 turn to what I called utter "dreckage". Year of Wonders managed to do this, infortunately.

In order to review, I have to break the book up between pages so that you can see where the trainwreck happened for me, and why I'm so PO'ed I could almost cry....

Rating: 5 stars
(I'd give it 10 stars if Goodreads had that designation, but since 5 stars means it was amazing, then 5 stars it is)

Year of Wonders: Pag
I would have given this a higher rating if not for the strange ending.
Jeffrey Keeten
“My Tom died as babies do, gently and without complaint. Because they have been such a little time with us, they seem to hold to life but weakly. I used to wonder if it was so because the memory of Heaven still lived within them, so that in leaving here they do not fear death as we do, who no longer know with certainty where it is our spirits go. This, I thought, must be the kindness that God does for them and for us, since He gives so many infants such a little while to bide with us.”

1666 was
Meredith Enos
A lot of people have complained about this book being slow, but I found it beautifully paced for what it was about--after all, the title is "Year of Wonders," which kind of sets up an expectation and timeframe right away. The pace helped set up a world, a time when things moved more slowly, when people were more thoughtful, when people paid attention to the seasons and nature. This is a beautifully narrated, incredibly seamless (for the amount of research that must have been put into to it, it r ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Update: Mar 29/13--I don't know why I did it, but the very fact that I did it (finished this book) was going to lead me to up it to three stars. But now that I've done it I'M TAKING THIS DOWN TO ONE STAR -- HOLY MOLY AND GOLLY GEE WILLIKERS BUT I AM P.O.'d AT THIS BOOK.

None of the last 50pp - new character development COMPLETELY in opposition and nonsensical to anything that went before, new sub-plots suggested and followed - were either necessary or sensible. ALL of it was entirely a contrivan
Jun 06, 2008 Rebecca rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like historical fiction.
Recommended to Rebecca by: LisaMM
Year of Wonders is a historical novel about a small English town 100 miles outside of London. It's the year 1666, and the town has been struck by plague, brought to them by a London tailor boarding with our narrator, Anna. The village is so remote that when the plague first appears the villagers don't recognize it for what it is. Once they learn the horrors of the disease, the villagers are asked to make a decision whether to flee in order to save themselves, or to stay put in order to keep the ...more
Year Of Wonders is the story of a very young, but determined and brave young widowed housemaid, Anna Frith, who (view spoiler) to the horrors of the plague, but soldiers on to help the town minister and his wife fight the contagion while quarantined within their village.

This touching and sometimes grotesquely explicit novel set in 1666 England is full of heartbreaking stories depicting unbelievable cruelty, superstitions, profiteering from the dead and the

I have to say that I liked this book. But, I was greatly disappointed in it. I came to the book knowing of the sacrifice of that village and knowing, too, that when people sacrifice in such a way they are abundantly blessed by God. Unfortunately, the latter was completely missing in this book. It is easy to be an onlooker to suffering and assume that you’ve seen the injustice and the loss and the pain and that there is nothing else to see. This is not only completely at odds with everything I be ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 01, 2014 Zanna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: feminist history lovers
Recommended to Zanna by: Sallybleasdale
I loved reading this because

I've known the story since I was very small & been to the place
The protagonist is a poor woman
The most heroic character is a liberated woman
The most courageous characters are all women
The author celebrates the lore and spirituality of cunning women
The author celebrates love, loyalty and friendship between women
The author celebrates communalist values and mutual care
The author takes witch-hunting to task as a masculist power-grab
The author takes Puritanism to task

Year of Wonders is a novel inspired by the true story of the little town of Eyam in Derbyshire, known as the Plague Village, during the years 1665 - 1666. Although the cause of how the plague showed up in their village is still unknown, the villagers' decision to quarantine themselves in order to stop the spread of the deadly disease has sealed their place in history.

Geraldine Brooks provides us with a fictional account of what life looked like from within the Plague Villag
I had read a couple of Geraldine Brooks' essays for my Lit Theory class while I was in grad school, and while I was never one of those ultra-feminist types, I liked what she wrote about women as being strong, independent and intelligent creatures without overtly politicizing femininity as a whole. So I looked forward to reading "Year of Wonders", primarily because I loved the topic, I loved the time period, I loved the location and because I thought Brooks would be able to impart something diffe ...more
This is a book about the bubonic plague so I am basically expected this by the end:


Spoilers abound below along with a not insignificant amount of profanity:(view spoiler)
Feb 03, 2008 Roisin rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I have to admit that I have never been a huge fan of historical fiction so this is not the kind of book that I would normally read. Having read several positive reviews and been impressed by the author's credentials, however, I started reading with an open mind. The writing style was very welcoming and drew you in from the beginning and I warmed to the strength of Anna, the protagonist. I felt however that the story became so flawed and was so inconsistently paced that by the final page I had lo ...more
Ah me, I'm afraid I had to reach for the smelling salts many times during Brooks' depiction of the plague's rampage through a small village in central England in the year 1666. The village and it's heroic decision to isolate itself to prevent the spread of the Black Death to other parts of the country is a reality. The characters spring to full-blown life from the author's imagination: preachers, servant girls, noble people who take on the roles of "heavies", Puritans, Anglicans, Ancients and c ...more
Jun 30, 2008 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Kathryn Latour
1666. A young housemaid walks through the empty streets of a village decimated by plague. She attends to the rector, a formerly charismatic leader now sequestered in his empty house, listless and faithless. The previous year a bolt of fabric from London brought bubonic plague to this remote northern village, and as one by one the villagers began to die, the rector convinced them that instead of fleeing the village and bringing plague to others (who probably would drive them away anyway), they sh ...more
Oct 08, 2013 Cheryl rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Historical Fiction
Read about it and "its blows fall and fall again upon raw sorrow." Its words will carry you through "a patchwork of grays." For it is not just a sense of melancholy that drives the mood of this novel. Rather, it is an abhorrent obscurity. The kind of murkiness that once upon a time, engulfed the real-life villagers of Eyam, Derbyshire in the year 1665. A closely knit community of miners and shepherds and weavers, they were.

Read and you will learn about their puritan ways and the plague that clai
Tea Jovanović
Jedna od mojih prvih "uredničkih" kupovina... neposredno posle Harija Potera... Odličan roman o crnoj smrti, ili kugi u Engleskoj... Nažalost, objavljena je u pogrešnoj ediciji i nije joj posvečena adekvatna pažnja... ali potražite je u bibliotekama... A još bolje, pročitajte je u originalu ako ste u mogućnosti...
Julie - Book Hooked Blog
I honestly have two totally different ranks for this book: one of the first 200 pages and one of the last fifty. The last fifty pages totally ruined everything I loved about the first 200. If I weren't reading on my computer, I'd throw it across the room.

Year of Wonders is inspired by a true story of a village called Eyam in England, which experienced an outbreak of the plague in 1666. Our story focuses on Anna, a housemaid for the village priest, and her experiences with loss, family, and commu

A solid effort from Geraldine Brooks. Especially impressive is her masterful writing throughout, which is quite beautiful and striking. No question about it, this is a sad book; however, it's not depressing. You feel for the main character's plight, but you have faith in her strength. That is what I think keeps the book from depressing the reader. The story focuses on a small cast of characters that Brooks has fleshed out nicely, and the plot is tight
If you are writing a book and want a solid example of what NOT to do, then “Year of Wonders” by Geraldine Brooks is an ideal case study. Yes, that may be harsh but Year of Wonder displays the prime example of an interesting plot with poor execution.

To begin, the text style is somewhat repellant as it is bland and one dimensional, lacking depth and energy. Also absent is a strong sense of imagery, with a monotone and drab voice, causing the reader to want to scan the pages (trust me, you won’t m
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Another winner from this author! An engaging plot and an interesting glimpse of what life was like for country people back then.
Historical novels are the perfect niche for Geraldine Brooks. She does ample research, then creates a perfect blend of fact and fiction.

This book is based on a true story about the village of Eyam, Derbyshire, where they really did quarantine themselves during the Black Plague of the 17th century. People long ago didn't understand how disease was transmitted, so they r
Despite the vast majority of this story being a seemingly unending tide of death and devastation from the Plague, I absolutely loved this novel. Granted I'm kind of a sucker for a historical novel set in a small seventeenth century British village with medical themes and an empowered female protagonist, but this story did an excellent job of combining period details, developing compelling characters, and showing a community in an impossible situation. I liked the end, though I'll admit it was aw ...more
God warns us not to love any earthly thing above Himself, and yet He sets in a mother's heart such a fierce passion for her babes that I do not comprehend how He can test us so.

I did not know what to expect of this title, as some of my GR friends loved it, and others loathed it. I'm sort of in the middle with my 3.5 stars. To be fair I think if I read this at a calmer time in my life, where the reading of it would have been less interrupted I would have enjoyed it more. The writing itself was be
May 18, 2012 Angie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Angie by: Diana
As a child of 11, I visited Eyam in Derbyshire for a 3 week long holiday staying in a 15th Century farmhouse. If the house wasn't creepy enough, the history of the 'Plague village' and its brave inhabitants totally fired up my imagination and I haven't forgotten the impression this made on me and my sisters and brother. I remember seeing the well, a crude stone with holes in it which was the furthest point the villagers could go to and where they left notes, money and requests for basic necessit ...more
Ann Canann
A terrific novel of ordinary people in an extraordinary time. Brooks is a gifted story teller with riveting observations of everyday things and period detail. She brings an amazing 17th century historical event to life in a story of how one village heroically faced the black-death. A wonderful read, my favorite by Brooks.

Daughter (Tania Lyon) put "Year of Wonder" in her to-read list.

Daughter (Kristin Stangl) responded: "Don't be fooled by the heroism-in-bad-times marketing bit; this is a disturb
Pauline Montagna
This is a beautifully written book. Set in 1665/6, and inspired by actual events, the novel tells the tale of a remote village in northern England which contracts the Plague from an infected bolt of cloth sent up from London. Inspired by their charismatic young rector, the villagers decide to quarantine themselves so as not to spread the contagion.

The effects of this dramatic undertaking are witnessed by Anna, a young widow, and housemaid to the rector and his aristocratic wife. Although inexpe
A friend of mine lent me this book accompanied by her hearty recommendation. I confess it sat, unread on my desk, for a number of months while I caught up on my TBR pile, but at last I finally got around to checking it out. I’d completed it within a few days.

It’s a fabulous historical novel. I wish ALL historical novels were like this. Everything is spot on: the attention to detail is perfect, the pacing just right, the writing style readable and intelligent. Best of all is the author’s grasp of
After reading March, I had to immediately read this novel by the same author. It's the story about the plague hitting a small village in England and how the people in the small town change as a result of it. I've been fascinated with historical fictions about plagues since reading Connie Willis' Doomsday Book. I still think I enjoyed Doomsday Book a bit more, but they are, after all, two entirely different stories.

I found it interesting how this particular plague tale focuses on a real plague i
I read this for Bruce Holsinger's historical fiction course on Coursera. It's based on the true story of the village of Eyam, during the 1665 epidemic of plague in Britain, though Geraldine Brooks doesn't stick too closely to the names and details of exactly what happened there, but rather tries to recreate the sense of it. For her own comfort, I think, even where she's based her characters on real people, she's taken them a step or so away from them so that William Mompesson becomes Michael Mom ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney, and attended Bethlehem College Ashfield and the University of Sydney. She worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald for three years as a feature writer with a special interest in environmental issu
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“God warns us not to love any earthly thing above Himself, and yet He sets in a mother's heart such a fierce passion for her babes that I do not comprehend how He can test us so.” 52 likes
“I borrowed his brightness and used it to see my way, and then gradually, from the habit of looking at the world as he illuminated it, the light in my own mind rekindled.” 13 likes
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