Monday, August 16, 2010

"Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks

Title: Year of Wonders
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Published: Penguin, 2001
Where I Got It: The library
Why I Read It: I'd heard some buzz about it

Book reviewers I trust had ranted about this book for a long time, and I figured I should check it out. Heck, it's #24 on the Best Historical Fiction list on goodreads. It's historical fiction, about the plague, and set in England, what's not for me to like?

The book is about a young woman named Anna living in a small village in England, that through unfortunate events, is diseased with plague in 1666. As death reaches into every household, the lives and relationships of the villagers are changed forever, leading to extreme actions and disastrous endings. Sound pretty epic to me.

That being said...I really wanted to like this book. The overall plot is an interesting and novel idea...but it was just written to be too boring for me. Even when exciting and unexpected things do happen, it was written in a very bland way. It was one of those "Wait, did something happen? Oh, someone died in a horrific way? How did I miss that?" moments . OK, this sounds a little seedy, but I was also expecting it to be more graphic and...well, gross. Based on some reviews I read, I was expecting to have to carry a trashcan around with me to throw up in. Yeah, that didn't happen. The Plague was anything but simple or skimpy on details, why make the book like that?

Even with the not so great writing, I still would have given it a higher rating if it hadn't been for the ending. Out of nowhere it turned into some sort of 21st century Hollywood movie with action, sex, and scandal...but not in a good way. It was almost as if the author was getting bored with her own story, and to save it, scribbled down some strange climax at the last moment. It was so out of place and almost unnecessary.

It was still a decent book, just a little disappointing. 2 stars.


  1. I really liked this book. I thought she did a good job with the plague and the beginning of the witch hunt. I also found it interesting how the town sequestered itself. I don't remember it super well since I read it about 5 years ago. I met the author as she was touring and she brought a plastic rat to the discussion. She was a tiny little thing but an amazing speaker.

  2. I remember really liking this book when I read it. I have to say, though, that reading a book because of the hype is almost always a sure way for me to be let's always different than I think it's going to be. I try to keep my expectations as low as possible so that I can be pleasantly surprised. :)

  3. Good call, Melody! That works with movies as well. The more I expect to like it, the more I am let down. The lower my expectations, the easier to be pleasantly surprised!

    This is the 2nd reviewer I've read who didn't especially care for this book. (I wasn't one of them). ;) I really like Geraldine Brooks' writing. The ending wasn't what I expected, but I rolled with it.

    This was my favorite of the three Brooks books I've read, though I also enjoyed the other 2 (March and People of the Book), but if you didn't like this one I'd probably say don't bother with the other two . . .

  4. I figured I would be the minority here! Something just rubbed me the wrong way, not even counting the ending.

    That's a good way of thinking Melody! :)



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