When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna's eyes we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition. As death reaches into every household and villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must find the strength to confront the disintegration of her community and the lure of illicit love. As she struggles to survive and grow, a year of catastrophe becomes instead annus mirabilis, a "year of wonders."
Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged hill country of England, Year of Wonders is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history. Written with stunning emotional intelligence and introducing "an inspiring heroine" (The Wall Street Journal), Brooks blends love and learning, loss and renewal into a spellbinding and unforgettable read.
©2010 Penguin Audiobooks (P)2010 Geraldine Brooks
1st 3/4 of the Book: 4 stars
Last 1/4 of the Book: 2 stars
The plague portion of the book I really enjoyed (that sounds weird, I know). It was dark and sad and haunting. At first described as an beautiful pasturial and hard-working community, Eyam in Derbyshire, made you ache to visit historic England and then dashed your hopes as the plague infested this village in 1665-66. You felt the pain of the villagers as they suffered through the bubonic plague. I found myself encouraging Anna and Elinor Mompellion as they researched herbs to relieve plague victims and to fight off the disease.
Then things got weird. This seemingly accurate and heart-wrenching story started to become a romance novel. Not that I mind a romance, but it just didn't fit the rest of the book. I can handle Anna getting down with the rector. Even though there were no real hints of her attraction to the minister, I could get behind Anna wanting to experience her friend Elinor's love life. To have the heroic minister turn into a dark and twisted character seemed wrong. There were only a few hints into this dark nature, and I didn't think it was ample build up for what transpired.
Next, the Bradfords turn into the ultra villians after appearing for only 10 pages beforehand. I understand by abandoning the town during the plague made them bad people - they certainly caused the town grief during their worst moments. But to become adulterers and baby murderers all of the sudden was just...puzzling.
Finally, Anna sails away (by herself...in 1666...yeaaaaaaaaah) only to become one of many wives of a Arabian doctor. So, all of the character building and strength is washed away as she willing becomes a wife to live with a doctor and learn his medical wisdom.
I don't know if Brooks wanted to make the book more exciting by building in a thrilling conclusion, but it stole the spirit of the 3/4 of the book. The majority of Year of Wonders is about a community who heroically suffered through the plague without endangering the surrounding villages. Readers felt the small joys because that's all the town had during a year of hell. As a reader, you felt pride in Anna's strength as she realized her gift in medicine. To have her just abandon the village after months of suffering with it seemed wrong.
Regarding the narration - Geraldine Brooks' narrated her own book. Her raspy British accent suited Anna, but it took awhile to get used to it. It became a little monotone - I found myself tuning her out at key points.
Although I did get used to the reader (the author) and you fall into her cadence, she is NOT a professional and it really took a lot away from the story for me.
The story, BTW, was excellent. I loved it, despite a very bizarre ending that comes out of left field. I'm not talking about a typical surprise ending - I'm talking about "W H E R E did T H A T come from..."
This is an excellent book but I wish it had been narrated by someone who could do it justice. The author is, without a doubt, a very talented writer but her narration has a dull, tired and almost sing-song quality to it. It reminded me to listen! before I make a selection.
Despite the fact that the narrator was annoyingly unskilled and monotonous, I enjoyed the story very much. That is I enjoyed it until the last chapter. I would have given the story a five star, but because of the ending - I feel I am being very generous with four stars. In the end though the overall rating was a three star because of the narration. I did get use to the narration by the end of the book and she does have a pleasant accent; however, I kept wishing I could tell the characters apart most of the time. I would recommend it though because the first part of the book is so well written and deftly drew me into Anna's world, her sorrows, triumphs, tragedy, loves, fears etc. I liked Anna Frith, as well as Michael and Elinor Mompellion very much and found it hard to put the book down at times. I guess the problem is that I was so invested in the characters that I found the ending completely unbelievable and ridiculous.
I liked the unexpected twists and turns of the story, it was not predictable. Anna seemed to be a little too lucky.
The ending was excellent, unexpected with a few interesting twists.I
Have a different reader, Ms. Brooks was awful!!! Perhaps Beverly Dunn would have been good, or just about anyone with some expression in their voice.
I do not think the Year of Wonders needs a follow-up book because it ended so wonderfully.
When ever I can't read a book I love to listen to one. I am addicted.
In the end it made me feel humble about life and reminded me that some people have had a much harder life then I have. But it was hard to really get drawn in at first, but it was worth it to keep listening.
I was surprised that the beginning of the book is a chapter that is chronologically almost at the end of the book. It made me interested just to see how that point had came about.
I have listen to easier voices, so are just pleasant on the ears. But the words felt true to the story.
Yes. Not an all time favorite but worth listening to. I do not regret it.
the story line based on true events
Sometimes Geraldine's voice can be a bit insipid but might be the character she was trying to protray as well. It was my first Geraldine Brooks listen. She surely writes a great story though.
Her Muslim husband for his insight and widom.
I thought the writer did a great job reading this book. He voice really captured the tone of the book well. Very compelling story.
Say something about yourself!
The story was very good and engaging; unfortunately, the book was read by the author. This would have been a much better production had a professional done the narration.
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