Beautifully designed book! Unfortunately, that's the only good thing I have to say about it. Flashy design does not make up for the inconsistent writiBeautifully designed book! Unfortunately, that's the only good thing I have to say about it. Flashy design does not make up for the inconsistent writing, weak plot, and bad characterization. Disappointed as I had high hopes for this one....more
Beautiful, heartbreaking, well-researched, richly envisioned, this book is a must-read for all lovers of historical fiction. Geraldine Brooks imaginesBeautiful, heartbreaking, well-researched, richly envisioned, this book is a must-read for all lovers of historical fiction. Geraldine Brooks imagines what it must have been like for the people of the village of Eyam, in England, who, in 1666, voluntarily isolated themselves from the rest of England and Europe in order to contain the ravages of the Plague to their own village.
Told from the point of view of Anna Frith, a housemaid to the new pastor and his wife, the reader is introduced to this simple, ordinary village, who attempts an extraordinary, self-less act. We learn of Anna's family, her miner husband and two sons; her drunken father, neglectful stepmother, and younger step-siblings; the village healer and her granddaughter; the politics of the new Pastor and his beautiful wife; the rich family on the hill who are patrons and the social leaders of the town; and the various other townspeople - miners, farmers, blacksmith, tavern owner, etc. - who make up small-town life.
When the Plague strikes, it is to a boarder Anna has taken in after her husband was killed in a mining accident. Coming from the city, the boarder doesn't realize the material he has brought as part of his tailor trade is infected with the seeds of Plague. One-by-one, villagers are struck down. The inspiring young Pastor must do what he can to hold the people of the village together, and also to keep the Plague from spreading. As the village closes themselves off, they're left with nowhere to turn with their sorrow and anger but upon themselves. Rumors run wild as people try to determine what keeps causing the spread of Plague; neighbors will not help each other for fear of catching it. It is up to the Pastor, the Pastor's wife, and Anna, to tend the sick, minister to the dying, and try to keep the civil unrest under control.
When will the sickness run its course? When will the year be over? And who will be left alive at the end? ...more
Another almost-indescribable Flavia de Luce adventure! Seriously, I'm not even worried about gushing too much, because every single novel in this seriAnother almost-indescribable Flavia de Luce adventure! Seriously, I'm not even worried about gushing too much, because every single novel in this series delivers. It's the best mash-up of a child protagonist's inquisitive nature, Sherlock Holmes's logic, historical literary fiction, murder mystery, and general good fun.
Continuing to explore the lives of land-rich, cash-poor, post-World War II, British countryside gentry, the Flavia de Luce novels each feature a murder mystery solved by 11-year-old Flavia herself. In this, the fourth novel in the series, Colonel de Luce has finally succumbed to mounting debts by allowing a film studio to take over Buckshaw, the de Luce estate. Movie star, Phyllis Wyvern, with complete cast and crew descend, all in the week before Christmas. In between concocting a sticky tar substance to catch St. Nicholas (just to make sure he IS real), Flavia is busy NOT getting in the way of the film company and making friends with Ms. Wyvern, much to her sister Feely's consternation.
Soon most of the village has also descended as Ms. Wyvern has agreed to give a special one-act performance of Romeo & Juliet to help raise funds for a new church roof. When a blizzard traps the town at Buckshaw, there are plenty of suspects when Flavia discovers Ms. Wyvern dead in her room during the night after her performance. Inspector Hewitt turns up, of course, and though he tries to avoid Flavia's assistance, she is, as usual, several steps ahead of him. All the favorite (and those favorite-to-hate) characters are present during this trying time, including Aunt Felicity who has more to do with this mystery than Flavia can imagine. Old war secrets, unexpected family connections, Dogger's bottomless wealth of information, and some good old-fashioned sleuthing all combine to help save the day in a truly shocking display of chemistry.
A great seasonal read for those who don't want anything too naughty OR nice. ...more