In Emma Donoghue's latest masterpiece, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle - a girl said to have survived without food for months - soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life.
Tourists flock to the cabin of 11-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.
Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge best seller, The Wonder works beautifully on many levels - a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.
©2016 Emma Donoghue (P)2016 Hachette Audio
Note: Tread carefully with the reviews...the more you don't know the better, and disregard any foregone conclusions you might have. If Room haunted you, prepare to be haunted -- and furious to tears, with Donoghue's masterful new novel.
Donoghue absolutely intrigues me. There is so much psychology and strategy behind her stories, so much accumulation in each sentence. She seems to approach her writing like an architect, laying a simple foundation that is solid and strong, but also aware of the imposing structure that will rise from that footing. Her words are carefully chosen; her characterizations superb, and her story-lines floodgates that by degrees unleash torrents of emotion. Even that which is lightly said, or unsaid for that matter, feels forceful. As I did when I finished Room, I paused and thought back over each step, each word, even pictured in my mind each expression -- and marveled at the tightness, marveled at the whole mighty story balanced on such a powder keg of a premise. And here again, it seems Donoghue has her readers inhabiting just 4 walls, a small room full of secrets and whispers, that contains such enormous dimensions.
A former student of the honorable Florence Nightingale, Nurse Lib is dispatched to a small village in Ireland to observe an 11 yr. old seemingly healthy girl that townspeople claim has existed for four months on only a couple of spoonfuls of water each day. Oddly, she is told to make only observations, that no nursing duties will be needed and she will be sharing a round the clock vigil with a local nun. The time is after the Crimean War, approximately 1860, and just after the Irish potato famine. The atmosphere of the village is one of superstition and religiosity, with little education offered and a strong connection between church and governing. Lib finds herself, a non-Catholic, ostracized, but necessary. As she questions the motivations of her assignment and each person involved with the little girl, villagers seem to move in on Lib. [*Donoghue surely draws on Nightingale's own unsuccessful experience with Catholicism to fuel Lib's pondering of the constant religious events that surround her.] You will begin to feel the questions arise in yourself. Before you come up with your explanation, Donoghue slams the truth down on you -- hard and heartbreaking. But, not so much that you should avoid this book....(There has to be a pay out -- at least a trickle -- for me to stick with a book so overwhelming.)
I will call friends to recommend this one, with the admonition that I have mixed feelings about the ending; but that's all I will say of that to you! (explanation for the 4*'s.) I'll also warn any one interested that this book is constructed of a lot of detailed dialogue and religious explanations. One site labeled the author with the title of the "undisputed master of the small and the slow." But, if the devil is in the details as they say, Donoghue knows how to make the read reveal itself as heavenly. The narrator is fabulous with the accents, but they don't work well at 2 x -- even at 1.5 x she tends to sound a little chimpmunk-y when voicing the child. I would suggest biting the bullet and just devoting the time to this one if your are even considering this for your library. It is 13 hours that you will emotionally and philosophically experience for much longer.
Say something about yourself!
This takes quite a while to get going; after about 1/3 of the book, it seems that the story will never really start. After that, the story picks up and becomes much more interesting. Emma Donoghue does a great job of describing the environment and gives the listener/reader a feeling of "being there."
The redundancy of the slow start never fully disappears--sections of the book are repetitive. This seems to be done on purpose, perhaps to emphasize the fact that the "wonder" is something being studied so it is viewed again and again. That technique didn't always work for me, however.
Kate Lock has a nice voice for narration, but the character voices were sometimes too hard to understand. At other times, the effort put into the sound of the character's speech caused the dialogue to be accented in such a way that the meaning of the dialogue was lost.
In the end, the story grew powerful enough for me that I could overlook many of the issues I had.
This isn't for those seeking a page-turner but it will keep you interested and wondering about little Anna's backstory and outcome.
Would recommend for anyone who appreciates well-developed characters and dark twists.
The narrator was a little difficult to understand with the Irish accents and often hysterical women speaking.
The story was good. However a bit slow and difficult to go through. That being said, I would recommend it. I enjoyed the narrator very much.
It's 3 in the morning, but I had to hear the end of this tale. Emma Donoghue has a beautiful way with words. I especially liked how the characters unfolded and changed. I loved Room and although this started out at a slower pace, it was still a very moving story. I did think the reader's performance was just okay. The accent was so thick at times that I could not understand what was being said. Definitely worth a credit!
Character development is excellent!, it just a little long to get there. Reader was excellen
Addicted to Audible!
I have mixed feelings about this book. I thought the narration was on-target, even though I didn't always understand the Irish broques. I found the beginning to be way too slow moving and it got quite boring to me. As a nurse I was interested in the links to Nightingale and the medical descriptions. It was also interesting to see the religious fervor of the time and the control the priest had over the people- made me glad that my Irish ancestors migrated to the USA! The ending finally made up for the slow beginning. I think reading it might be a better option, because then I could speed read the boring parts and get to the more interesting part of the story.
Say something about yourself!
I love this author. I waited eagerly for this book's publication. I tried to listen five different times. Alas, when Kate Lock launched from her very pleasing narration of the basic text into her shrill, banshee interpretation on Irish accent, I just. Couldn't.Take. It.
Why a producer thought this accent was a good idea is simply confounding. It ruined this listen.
I am blind and "read" all my books and magazines on audio. I am supremely tolerant of imperfections in narration.
Alas, not so much here.
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