Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

1. First lines 2. Published 2001 Harper Collins 3.Eyam Church By Alan Fleming. Licence [CC-BY-SA 2.0] via geograph 4. The milkmaid By Johannes Vermeer – 9AHrwZ3Av6Zhjg at Google Cultural Institute [Public Domain] via Wikimedia
I really liked this book.
1666, a year of wonders/ a year of disasters.

In 1666, the villagers of Eyam in England voluntarily quarantined themselves for a year, thus saving neighbouring communities from the spread of bubonic plague. This book brings to life the events of that year.

“This matter, like all matters concerning the Bradfords, would be weighed on scales that could be raised or lowered only according to the heft of strict self-interest.”

“Inside the croft, I saw the remains of that morning’s breakfast: on the table was a pipkin of lard, the imprints of thin fingers on the slippery white surface betraying that she’d been eating it by the fistful. There was an eggshell, from which she’d sucked the contents raw, and an onion, with bites out of it, that she’d eaten like an apple. Uncouth, perhaps, but sustaining.”

“It came to me then that we, all of us, spent a very great deal of time pondering these questions that, in the end, we could not answer. If we balanced the time we spent contemplating God, and why He afflicted us, with more thought as to how the Plague spread and poisoned our blood, then we might come nearer to saving our lives. While these thoughts were vexing, they brought with them also a chink of light. For if we could be allowed to see the Plague as a thing in Nature merely, we did not have to trouble about some grand celestial design that had to be completed before the disease would abate. We could simply work upon it as a farmer might toil to rid his field of unwanted tare, knowing that when we found the tools and the method and the resolve, we would free ourselves, no matter if we were a village of sinners or a host of saints.”

~ Quotes from the book

Author website: Geraldine Brooks

Other editions.

  • Guardian: “Year of Wonders is a tale of fragile hope pitted against overwhelming disaster. Like the flaring rosettes of the bubonic rash, it gets under the skin of what it means to be human.”
  • Kirkus: “Painstaking re-creation of 17th-century England, swallowed by over-the-top melodramatics: a wildly uneven first novel by an Australian-born journalist.”
  • The New Yorker: “The novel glitters with careful research into such arcana as seventeenth-century lead-mining, sheep-farming, and, of course, medicine, but its true strength is a deep imaginative engagement with how people are changed by catastrophe.”

#geraldinebrooks #harpercollinsaustralia #penguinrandomhouse

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