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Year of Wonders

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  120,456 ratings  ·  8,913 reviews
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 t ...more
Paperback, 358 pages
Published April 30th 2002 by Penguin Books (first published 2001)
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rob Yes. The period was handled exceptionally well. It was only the decline of the plot into a complete soapie that really ruined this book.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  120,456 ratings  ·  8,913 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
“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
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 07, 2007 rated it liked it
I would have given this a higher rating if not for the strange ending.
Elyse Walters
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
After reading "Long Man", by Amy Greene, not long ago....I was craving to read about
another female character that 'might' remind me of Annie Clyde Dodson. I also wanted the story - like "Long Man" to be inspired by true events....
and last...I wanted the writing to be gorgeous - rich, beautiful prose.....character driven...realistic...
I wanted to get in touch with that 'feeling' which is different than the many modern contemporary novels I read.

"YEAR of WONDER" was the perfect choice sat
Hannah Greendale
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anna Frith resides in a remote village where a bolt of cloth delivered from London brings with it the bubonic plague. Guided by a vision bestowed upon the town minister, Anna and her village elect to quarantine themselves, hoping to prevent the plague from spreading. Days of quarantine turn into weeks. As the months come and go, villagers grow restless. Death is prevalent in every household; suspicion and anger mount as villagers yearn for someone to blame for their plight. Anna soon faces far g ...more
May 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks 2001 novel describes the plague years of 1666 and concludes with a very unusual and somewhat unbalanced ending.

While reading I thought of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and of course Camus’ The Plague (and I forgive her much about the ending for the mention of Oran which could NOT have been coincidence).

This is simply, elegantly written and yet the force and brutality of the plot, told in such straightforward prose is also reminiscent of Sinners in the Hands of
Meredith Enos
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Heidi The Reader
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Year of Wonders tells the story of Anna, a servant to a pastor, and how she emotionally and physically survives the plague while the majority of her village falls ill around her.

I was enthralled. I listened to the audiobook on my daily commute and it was fantastic.

You get the very real drama of life in a small village mixed with the the despair that must have accompanied the plague. There's finger-pointing, people taking advantage of other's need and, above all, the need to rationalize why all o
Jennifer (aka EM)
Feb 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Will Byrnes
Jul 22, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
I'd like to entitle this review How I Wish I Liked Geraldine Brooks More and subtitle it (for dramatic effect) How I Narrowly Escaped the Plague.

True story: Last year, right before Labor Day here in the States, our dog became somewhat lethargic and had swelling around his neck. And, though it was hot and the end of August, I was, strangely enough, simultaneously experiencing a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes.

It was the Thursday before the Monday Labor Day holiday (naturally) when I took in o
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...
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: feminist history lovers
Recommended to Zanna by: Sally Bleasdale
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
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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

Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
May 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
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)
Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)
This is the captivating story of the bubonic plague in a small English town in 1665. This is a part of history that should be told!! Written as a novel of historical fiction with a wonderful heroine.

I love this sad yet essentially uplifting story about a town that sacrifices itself by cutting off all travel and communication between their village and the other towns to contain the progression of the plaque.

It is based on true stories and superb writing -- told in the language of the times.

Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm still reading the novel and must admit it's really gripped me. The novel presents the atmosphere in a 17th century remote English village during the Plague, but not only, it describes a small rural community, the beginnings of mining, witch hunting and superstitions, all of which ultimately lead to dramatic events. Also, the language is exeptionally powerful, you do not read it as a historical novel written in modern times. I did enjoy reading the novel as it's always interesting to observe ...more
Amy Bruno
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing

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
The book gets its title from John Dryden's poem "Annus Mirabilis, The Year of Wonders, 1666" in the epigraph. It was the year when the black death ravaged England, and the Great Fire destroyed parts of London. Geraldine Brooks brings us to the small village of Eyam, Derbyshire where bolts of cloth from London, infested with fleas, were delivered to the tailor. He was the first villager who succumbed to the plague with many more following.

The story is narrated by Anna Frith, a shepherdess who als
Shelagh Rice
This was a really good historical fiction book, I have never read anything from this era before. It is set in 1666 and the plague is heading for a small rural village. The story is told from the perspective of Anna Frith a young married housemaid with two young children. This is a fascinating insight into the lives of ordinary people under extraordinary circumstances. The overall concept for the book is based on a factual story of a village under siege from the plague. It is difficult to imagine ...more
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
Judith E
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The bubonic plague hit Eyam, England in the 1600’s like the apocalypse. Geraldine Brooks writes a grim tale based on a true incident in which this village is nearly annihilated and causes its residents to question God’s existence, God’s ability to intervene, and the power of nature. The strength of women, the hysteria of witchcraft, natural herbal cures, and the ignorance of staunching the spread of disease unfold in this tragedy.

I enjoyed reading this well written portrayal of life in Britain
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 18, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: adultfiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A realistic, grim account of England’s Great Plague of 1665-1666 as told by Anna, a very young village widow. Brooks’s writing is what makes this bearable and compelling to read.

The Black Death had been around for hundreds of years--during the Roman Empire and the late Middle Ages—but this is about the outbreak in Restoration England. Charles II and the court removed themselves to the countryside, and this village decided to quarantine itself.

The story opens in “Leaf-Fall, 1666”, after the
Julie G
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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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
“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.” 63 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.” 24 likes
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