Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks — A Review



Reading Brooks’ Year of Wonders was a hard but insightful look into how a pandemic wreaks havoc and misery in a community. As a lover of history, it was nice to follow JoAnn Butler’s A Reputed Wife with this novel.

Both novels are set in the 17th century, though are an ocean apart and deal with different primary issues. A Reputed Wife looks at the Puritan and Quaker conflict in Northeastern America while Brooks’ Year of Wonders examines the effect of the Great Plague (a.k.a. the Black Death) on a village in England.

Yet both novels deal with religion. The village in Year of Wonders hails from Puritan leanings while the minister who comes to roost is definitely not, though he is as dangerous in his beliefs as any Puritan. Like A Reputed Wife’s heroine and friends, Year of Wonders’ narrator, Anna, along with a host of other female characters, seek to serve the needy, the ill, and the injured only to find themselves suspected of witchcraft, heresy and other evils because of their methods.

Both novels give insight into a period of time where much remains unknown. I recommend both to anyone wanting to learn more about 17th century America and England. The one complaint I have with Year of Wonders, that A Reputed Wife does so well, is using terminology from the 17th century without defining it adequately or at all. On a Kindle, smartphone, or other device, a dictionary is a few keystrokes away. It was not for me, as I read the paperback version.