Wanda's Reviews > Year of Wonders

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
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's review
Feb 26, 2010

it was ok

This book, set in 1665 is a historical fiction about the plague years. The heroine is Anna Frith, an 18 year old widow with two young sons whose husband was killed in a mining accident. Anna is a servant in the household of the local Anglican priest and his wife, Elinor. As the book opens Elinor is dead and we learn that she and Anna were close friends.
Anna, despite the fact that she's a peasant in a remote English village, not only reads, but understands Latin. Hmmmmm! A stretch. It's highly unlikely that a young 17th century mother who is a household servant would have time to learn and the ready access to books. But please don't make her a Rhodes scholar with modern sensibilities. From there we are exposed to all of the other aspects of Anna's wonderfulness.
Due to disasters centered around the plague ravaging her town, Anna loses her faith and begins to explore other theological perspectives. Anna not only becomes an ace scholar, but she also becomes a terrific midwife in less than a year.
The book is melodramatic and moves along. It is well written. BUT, and this is a big BUT, it is totally implausible. I think that good historical fiction should be plausible. I won't give away the ending - but it is equally improbable and at this point I wanted to throw the book in the trash.
It is very clear that Brooks is imposing 21st century values on her characters who reflect a tolerance that is far-fetched for a 17th century zeitgeist. So, the long and short of this is that it is escapist entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less. A beach book.

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