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Year of wonders brings out the worst in people

In Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders, what is the importance of Elinor and Anna's relationship?

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.

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Pag Rarely has a book so captivated and then disappointed me with such a 180 turn to what I called utter "dreckage". Pages 1-255 is a beautiful, incredibly moving fictional account of a real event that happened in Eyam "Eem"Derbyshire, England in 1665-1666.

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Today, road signs point out the direction to "Plague Village", so I think you get the idea of where this story is going to go. The villagers of Eyam were ground zero for an outbreak of bubonic plague that had apparently been introduced to the remote village from flea infested bolts of cloth brought into the town.

  • Author Geraldine Brooks tells this story through the eyes of Anna, a young widow with 2 very small children to support;
  • The escape offers her the opportunity to recreate herself in her own image;
  • What Brooks did so perfectly in pages 1-255, she completely decimated in pages 256-304.

Best guess estimates of the population in 1665 set it around 380 villagers. By the fall of 1666, only about 120 were left.

  • While the women's friendship is a metaphor for the book's theme of coming together during adversity regardless of differences one may have with another, it is also the heart of the novel;
  • Set boundaries where you can, forgive yourself, forgive them, and talk with someone who has earned your trust about your experience and do something nice, something self-affirming for yourself;
  • For me, the answer is easy;
  • Elinor begins to earnestly teach Anna to meet Anna's "hunger" for information;
  • In another occasion Anna exhibits her outrage when Elizabeth Bradford attempts murdering the illegitimate new born of Mrs Bradford.

While people all over London and other places in England were hurriedly leaving the areas of plague infection, the villagers of Eyam, under the strong guidance of their pastor Michael Mompellion, decided to stay put, self-quarantine themselves and ride out the storm. They saw it as a test of their faith and trust toward God, and felt that they would be blessed beyond all measure once the plague left them.

Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks

Author Geraldine Brooks tells this story through the eyes of Anna, a young widow with 2 very small children to support. Anna's role in helping Michael Mompellion and his high born wife Elinor shines the light on all that was the very best of human nature during a time of crisis, as well as what was the very worst in human beings stretched physically, emotionally and spiritually beyond their endurance.

Year of Wonders

Brooks married the two extremes so well, weaving a highly readable tale of immense pain, degradation, fear, and ultimately faith. I was appalled later, when I googled Eyamto learn that many of the incidences Brooks used in the book were true.

Human beings definitely have the capacity for both extreme nobility of spirit, as well as extreme barbarism. If Brooks had left the story of the plague village at page 255, I would have happily accorded this wonderful book a cherished slot in my bulging bookcase and marked it as "favorite" on these, my Goodreads shelves.

Set Boundaries and Forgive Yourself

Alas, the book was 304 pages long. Therefore, we come to book-review-within-a-review: Page 256-304 must be read in connection with the first 255 pages to be fully believed. It is so crammed with schlocky, hokey, trite piles of plot shite that I can hardly believe that it's written by the same author as my beloved book, Year of Wonders: How is this possible?

  • Even to lay down our own lives, if that was what God asked of us?
  • Forgive yourself, forgive them, and forgive yourself again;
  • Page 256-304 must be read in connection with the first 255 pages to be fully believed;
  • Anna Frith the central protagonist and narrator demonstrate genuine humanity and courage in the face of the epidemic;
  • WTH happened to plot continuity?

Did Brooks suddenly seize up and hand over the pen to some Harlequin romance writer? What Brooks did so perfectly in pages 1-255, she completely decimated in pages 256-304.

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Was she attempting to pull off her own mini-plague by killing off all the good and noble and faithful ideas her story fostered? WTH happened to plot continuity?

OK, so now I've come to the end of my rambling, stupid review.