Year of Wonders

Remember how this summer I was all keyed up and I was going to take a bunch of Coursera classes and get really really really smart?

Yeaaaaaaaah….that didn’t happen.

I took one really interesting psychology course, and then started a historical fiction course that was so boring and unorganized I stopped listening after two or three lectures. Sigh.

However, the reading list for that class was pretty great, and I’ve enjoyed some of the books that have come from it. I have been listening to one of those, Year of Wonders, since August. Audiobooks are a bit of a labor of love for me…I can only listen to them while my hands are otherwise occupied, so they take forever to get through, “reading” a bit at a time. I’ve been working overtime this week on emails, so I FINALLY got through the rest of it.

In Year of Wonders, Anna Firth finds herself in the center of the plague in 17th century England. Her village is overtaken by the disease, and as they quarantine themselves, she becomes the person strong enough in mind and body to care for everyone.

I have a feeling I would have enjoyed Geraldine Brooks’ book much more if I would have read it the usual way rather than audiobook, as this is exactly the kind of historical fiction story I love. I would have devoured it in a day. Anna’s voice is so passionate and loving, you can feel how scared and frustrated she is with her situation. Brooks also included so much historic detail–from the medicines and religious beliefs, to the laws and punishments. There’s also some contrast with Muslim medical culture at the end of the book, which I found interesting, and it reminded me of The Horse Healer

Be prepared for FEELINGS. It’s a book about the plague, so there is sickness and death and anger and pain. How Anna (and real people like her) held up to it all, I will never comprehend.

Even though it took me forever to get through it, I really enjoyed this one–I know I would have REALLY liked it if it would have been a manual read, so 4 Book Dragons for Year of Wonders.

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