There are certain authors about whom much is said on LibraryThing. Authors like Margaret Atwood seems to be a special favorite, as does Geraldine Brooks. I had never read anything by either of these women and felt quite deficient. I will be reading Atwood’s, “The Handmaid’s Tale” in mid-May for a group read, but I have begun my experience with Geraldine Brooks in “Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague.”
A novel of the plague. Sounds just fascinating, right? Okay, granted, that does sound like something that would be interesting to me no matter what, I am a huge nerd, after all. Amazingly enough, however, I think it is ALSO something that would be interesting to other people.
This novel is based on a small town Brooks happened across in England that was touted as the ‘plague’ town. In 1666 this town was infected by the bubonic plague and they willingly shut themselves off from contact with all of those outside their village from something around an entire year. Not surprisingly, much of the town died (I don’t think this is a spoiler, it was the freaking plague!).
While this is historical fiction, specifically the type of historical fiction which places partially fictional characters (Brooks uses the names of real people only where her depictions are based solely on historical fact) around a real historical event, there is also fantastic character growth and development. I felt that Anna, Elinor, and Michael (at least) were real people that had really gone through this ordeal. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find out that Brooks found diaries with thoughts and feelings poured out upon their pages, but no, she is just actually that good of a writer.
Whether you are interested in learning something about the bout of plague which ‘plagued’ the town of Eyam in the 17th century or whether you want to read some non-fluffy, solidy written fiction with well-developed characters, Year of Wonders is a book I would highly recommend. I guess all those LibraryThingers were right about Geraldine Brooks!
Go ahead and buy this book on Amazon – Year of Wonders