Nothing could have made this a 5-star experience, but having a different reader might have moved it up to 3 stars.
There really isn't a lot of historical accuracy or insight in this book. The reader just went by a historical marker for a city that isolated itself during the plague and decided to make up a story about it. It's not a bad story, but I wanted to come away with a real understanding of what it was like to live through the plague. I didn't.
I know that the reader (author) can't help that she has a monotone, somewhat whiney voice, but one wonders what editor could possible have allowed her to proceed with this endeavor. At times, she writes with considerable passion, but her reading never has even the slightest hint of passion. It is almost a parady of bad reading. There are absolutely no dynamics in her performance at all. Most computers speak with considerably more enthusiasm and emotion. It really wrecked what was only an OK book anyway.
If you've never though about what it must have been like to have the people surrounding you dropping like flies from disease, this book might cause you to think about it. It won't give you much insight into what it was like, but it might raise the subject in your mind. Some of the relationships in the book are moderately interesting.
A not terribly interesting book on a really interesting topic.
audio addict! Mostly interested in history and some historical fiction. Will Durant is my all time favorite. Loving the Great Courses too.
I too had issues with Brooks narration at first. But if you give her a chance, I PROMISE her performance enhances these characters and this tale.
Geraldine Brooks is an amazing author. This book is so well written and the ending of such irony, I believe the sober voice that tells this story is incredibly powerful.
Year of Wonders will be a classic one day. I can't praise it enough.
Give Geraldine Brooks' narration a chance. Soon the voice will become lovely and the story will not seem right without her.
Highly recommended. One of the best authors of our time and this book is her finest work!
(I'm listening to Caleb's Crossing right now. Excellent as well)
My comments are based first on the story itself, then on the narration. As a story, the topic and characters were interesting, and the writing discerning and moving. Unfortunately, the audiobook fails to do justice to the book, as the narration is incredibly monotone, droning on and occasionally failing to pause at the end of sentences. I could not bear to listen to more than 45 minutes and had to give up--a shame, as historical novels are my favorite genre and the writing was excellent. A real shame that the author chose to narrate her own book, she does not appear to be affected by the story, nor enjoying herself in the process, so that she is unable to carry the listener along. A great writer, an awful narrator.
I liked the story overall and thought it was an interesting take on a time period that has not had much attention previously in modern literature, but the recording is the absolute worst I've heard from Audible! I could barely hear the ends of sentences as the author trailed off without emotion at the end of every phrase. Very dull reading for the most part except when voicing a few minor character parts. Too dull. Too quiet. Too lacking in emotion, which was just as frustrating as the difficulty in hearing the words in the first place. For listening, it's easier if the recording is done when the reader is speaking up clearly. It is hard to focus on the story with the distraction of a terrible reading. That being said, extremely interesting premise.
The epilogue could have been expanded into a sequel.
How a Derbyshire village (based on a real one) chose to quarantine itself in 1665-6. Certainly a fascinating idea, as Geraldine Brooks mentioned in her afterword. Full of dramatic potential. The herbal lore and midwifery showed her research come alive. But the plot failed too often to grip my attention. Characters did undergo change, but the daily elements were somehow less vivid despite the descriptions of the plague and the violence that ensued. It did not immerse me into the experiences as much as a better novelist could have achieved.
Her soft voice for the protagonist was unable to convey in male characters the range of emotions and timbre necessary. While the tone grew on me for the main character, it could not capture the others in the village sufficiently, in a sing-song muted register throughout.
It could be a movie. Perhaps with Benedict Cumberbatch as the reverend, and Emma Stone as Anne Frith.
To her credit, Brooks summons the phrasing of mid-17c British diction well. The book does feel genuine in the rhetorical and tonal choices she makes. Maybe it'd work better on paper.
This writer knows what the turn of a phrase means... her writing is exceptional, and her story telling poignant and beautiful. Very fascinating subject matter weaved into a heartbreaking narrative.
I loved every moment of this book although, the last 20 pages took a strange pivot. Still, best thing I've read all year.
Enjoyed the author's performance of this audiobook. She was not as talented a performer as some narrators, but her sensitive delivery was excellent.
The story is a hard one - no spoiler, since you can learn this on the book jacket - it's plague time, dear reader. Immersive historical fiction that combines fact-based records and imagination. The main character will stay with me.