Bibliophile Babes Book Club discussion

The Wonder
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Kate (Lillytales) (lillytales) | 122 comments Mod
Hey bibliophile babes! I hope you're all having a wonderful start to June. How did you find The Wonder by Emma Donoghue this month? I must confess that I am not actually finished the book yet, but I have heard from a few of you who said you finished a while ago! So here are this month's discussion questions:

1. What would you rather 'The Wonder' out of 5?

2. What do you think are the multiple meanings of 'The Wonder'?

3. Talk about the very complicated reasons for Anna's fasting. Do you think Anna is too young to understand her decision?

4. The inclusion of Miss N (Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing) wasn't essential to the plot. Why do you think the author included her and what did it add to the book?

5. Do you find the clinical detail regarding the descriptions of Anna’s symptoms and the theory and practice of nursing in the 19th century interesting?

6. In his final article Byrne notes that no one had been punished or even held accountable for Anna's death. As the reader, we know Anna survived but should the crime still have been punishable?

7. Were you surprised by Byrne's part in Anna's rescue?


Claire (cmoo053) | 109 comments 1- I think I might be in the minority with this one- it was definitely a book/person mismatch for me. I gave it 2 ⭐️⭐️. While I appreciated the concept- I found the narrative really slow for most of the novel- then the rapid turn of events seemed somewhat unbelievable. Most of the characters had a lot of potential but lacked depth and were ultimately quite flat for me.


Claire (cmoo053) | 109 comments 2- I found it quite difficult to answer this question- I guess because I didn't engage so much with the book. I guess the obvious interpretation is that Anna is the wonder- able to stay alive without food Ostensibly for so long. I think many people saw Lib as some kind of wonder- in a negative way I guess. She was an outsider, a technical nurse, someone who didn't get their religious fervour and I think many other characters wondered at that. Lib herself wonders at many of the people she encounters in the novel- particularly Anna's parents- how they could let their child continue with such a dangerous fast. The presence of the Christian God is very strong in the novel and I think that is another representation of the wonder in the novel. Anna herself wonders about the fate of her dead brother and in the end that wonder leads her to the situation she is in.


Claire (cmoo053) | 109 comments 3- The base reason for Anna's fasting is explained as trying to buy or work for her dead brothers place in heaven. She is concerned about where he is because of his sins. I guess Anna turns to fasting to solve this problem for two main reasons- firstly that it is a common practice in her faith, and secondly that she has ultimate faith that because she has been true and good, that her god will save her. The course of the narrative certainly suggests that Anna is too young to understand the implications of this decision...however I think in many ways that is a consequence of her parents engineering. In 'feeding' her for so long- they allowed her to believe she could survive this.


Claire (cmoo053) | 109 comments 4- I have to admit I found this part of the novel a little grating. It was one of those things that I felt wasn't overtly necessary and wasn't especially well done. I guess the constant references were part of what made Lib seem a bit self important to me. In terms of narrative purpose- I thought that the intention seemed to be to repeatedly illustrate the difference in values between Lib and the other characters in the novel. She was a "true" medical nurse and she really didn't understand their religious faith and the extent to which this infected their lives at all. It felt like an explanation of Lib's inability to relate- and I thought Lib often used it as an excuse to not try to understand.


Claire (cmoo053) | 109 comments 5- I did find the clinical details of Anna's symptoms interesting- in many instances this felt like the only advancement of plot at all. I think it really highlighted how different the world of the novel is to the world today. For me it offered some explanation for how a case like this could happen, or go on for so long- because they had so little scientific method to fall back on.


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Kate (Lillytales) (lillytales) | 122 comments Mod
Kate wrote: "Hey bibliophile babes! I hope you're all having a wonderful start to June. How did you find The Wonder by Emma Donoghue this month? I must confess that I am not actually finished the book yet, but ..."

There's nothing wrong with that Claire! Not every book is for every person. I think the slow pace is also a reason I haven't finished it yet because it didn't grip me from the get go - a little disappointing! Well done for getting through it until the end, even though you weren't hooked.


Claire (cmoo053) | 109 comments Kate wrote: "Kate wrote: "Hey bibliophile babes! I hope you're all having a wonderful start to June. How did you find The Wonder by Emma Donoghue this month? I must confess that I am not actually finished the b..."

Thanks Kate- I think there is definitely a case for book/person mismatch. Doesn't mean it wasn't a good book, it just wasn't the book for me. Hopefully we get some more discussion and people can broaden my thoughts on it.

I do agree though, it was definitely the pace that killed it for me from the outset.


Sara Penny | 86 comments Mod
Claire wrote: "4- I have to admit I found this part of the novel a little grating. It was one of those things that I felt wasn't overtly necessary and wasn't especially well done. I guess the constant references ..."

Yes, Lib did come off as self-important to the point of irritation. It's a shame because I think the author was trying to convey that Lib had gained a sense of self-worth from nursing after 'the shame' of her husband leaving her.
Lib could have received her nursing training from anyone though, for this to apply.
I honestly thought the inclusion of Florence Nightingale only served to authenticate the time period of the book lol and I suppose to have the reader make an association between her reported sternness and Lib's character.


message 10: by Sara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara Penny | 86 comments Mod
Claire wrote: "Kate wrote: "Kate wrote: "Hey bibliophile babes! I hope you're all having a wonderful start to June. How did you find The Wonder by Emma Donoghue this month? I must confess that I am not actually f..."

The mystery element is what pulled me through this book. For some reason I just found something very sinister about the O'Donnell's and was waiting for the truth to be revealed.


Claire (cmoo053) | 109 comments Sara wrote: "Claire wrote: "Kate wrote: "Kate wrote: "Hey bibliophile babes! I hope you're all having a wonderful start to June. How did you find The Wonder by Emma Donoghue this month? I must confess that I am..."

I definitely agree with you there Sara- the mystery is what kept me going until the end. Whatever else I felt about the novel- I definitely needed to know HOW.


Claire (cmoo053) | 109 comments Sara wrote: "Claire wrote: "4- I have to admit I found this part of the novel a little grating. It was one of those things that I felt wasn't overtly necessary and wasn't especially well done. I guess the const..."

Yes I felt the same- it was mostly a flag or signal to the reader to help locate the novel.


Carly Kernaghan | 6 comments 1: I agree with you Claire, a slow read; I was constantly waiting to 'something' to happen, so I gave it a 3.

2: The more I think about the meaning the more I think religious fervour may be the wonder. How religious devotion can result in both salvation and death. Having been brought up in a religious family I can understand the exasperation Lib feels!

6/7: I was also a little disappointed with the ending, she seemed to wrap it up far too quickly and as a result it was overly dramatic and unrealistic. However, given the time period and location I guess there's a little leeway there.


Claire (cmoo053) | 109 comments Carly wrote: "1: I agree with you Claire, a slow read; I was constantly waiting to 'something' to happen, so I gave it a 3.

2: The more I think about the meaning the more I think religious fervour may be the wo..."


I felt that way about the ending too...and I agree that it having been such a slow novel up until very close to the end, made the turn of at the events seem a little unlikely and overly dramatic.


Claire (cmoo053) | 109 comments Carly wrote: "1: I agree with you Claire, a slow read; I was constantly waiting to 'something' to happen, so I gave it a 3.

2: The more I think about the meaning the more I think religious fervour may be the wo..."


Also- I like your interpretation of the "Wonder" I certainly felt that way about religious fervour while reading it- so maybe it was more successful than I've given it credit for.


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