Geraldine Brooks immerses the reader into the village of Eyam and the devastating despair of the plague in Year of Wonders. Voiced by the protagonist, Anna Firth, the style is spot-on for the year 1666. The social dynamics of a quarantined community under severe pressure is fascinating (and somewhat depressing) to observe. Historical fiction fans will find much to like in this book and Anna is a vibrant character who grows in strength as the book progresses. Aside from some character motivation that stretched plausibility, the book flowed well. With good discussion topics and much food for thought, Year of Wonders made one wonder—What if I had been there?
Profanity/Language: 3 mild obscenities; 1 religious profanity; 6 derogatory names; 6 scatalogical words; 3 anatomical terms.
Violence/Gore: Character recounts how a baby was delivered with a thatcher hook; extended delivery scene; report of a mob stoning a character resulting in severe injury and eventual death; description of medieval device, brank; report of child abuse when a character was young; a character is punched; a character purposefully burns self; a character attempts to murder another character and buries them alive; a character is attacked with a knife; a character recounts the terrible things that happened to him in younger years; a character falls to death off a cliff; report of a character losing an eye; mob activity resulting in injuries and a hanging; character imposes self-inflicted injuries with a whip and hooks; attempted drowning of an infant; self-inflicted abortion.
Note: This book details the Plague in the year 1666. There are many deaths, some described in detail, due to the illness.
Sex/Nudity: Frank dialogue detailing why a girl should marry sooner rather than later; two adult characters have sex (no details); reference to a character as a “bitch in heat”; monologue by a character accused of being a witch who admits to sexual activity with the Devil and accuses other women in sexually explicit language of doing the same; a bawdy song/verse; a character runs away with another character and becomes pregnant; a deathbed confession by a character of his philandering; characters encounter other adult characters having sex on the side of the road (no details); three separate instances of adult characters having sex, one of which has some detail; a character becomes pregnant out of wedlock.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death, Faith, Religion, Spouse/Child Abuse, Poverty, Illness, Community Disintegration.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
There are several references to characters that drink or are drunk. A character uses poppy twice to escape realities and sleep.