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A Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks - Review

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

As mentioned previously, I will sometimes review adult books that I think teenagers could read and enjoy. I will try to raise issues as I do with my YA reviews, but all these reviews come with a caveat. Teenagers aren't stupid, and I won't review anything that I think is explicitly too inappropriate for them.

I read A Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks for my book club, and probably would never have picked it up otherwise as its not my usual cup of tea. I really struggled to get into it at first, as the prose style is a bit strange and the narrative is very dense. Once I got through that, I really enjoyed the novel.

Where did I get it? Penistone Library, not far from my house!

What's it about? Eyam in Derbyshire is known as The Plague Village because, when the Plague hit in 1665, the village chose to isolate itself and let no one in or out so that the contagion didn't spread to nearby towns and villages. In Brooks' vivid novel based on these true events, housemaid Anna Frith loses her husband in a mining accident and takes in a lodger to support her family. He dies of the Plague, probably due to flea-infested fabric, and it spreads rapidly. Anna becomes friendly with her employers, the Rector and his wife Elinor, and she and Elinor take over as the village's medicinal women after predecessors Mem and Anys die. 

What age range is it for? 15+ I would say. When Anna gets married, she is 15, and is not much over 19 by the time the novel ends. I think it's interesting for teens to see what someone their age would have been doing in the past - in this case, getting married, having two children, and becoming a widow!  

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Nope. 

Are any main characters non-white? Nope.

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yes, both. 

Is there any sex stuff? A little bit, but it's not very explicit. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No, except for natural remedies. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, obviously. A lot of the Plague deaths are gory, and there are several other violent deaths. The bit with the knife on the moor.... was very gory for me, and I'm not usually bothered. There's also some talk about childbirth, so bear that in mind too. 

Are there swear words? I don't think so. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes, I liked it and it was interesting to read about the Plague and about Eyam, and also about how everyone had a job to do in such a village.

How many stars? 8 out of 10, once I got through the denseness. 

Where is the book going now? Back to the library from whence it came! 

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