Geraldine Brooks’ ‘Year of Wonders’ a historical novel inspired by the true story of the ‘plague village’ of Eyam in the 17th Centuary, has elements of mystery, romance and allegory. Throughout reading the historical fiction I found the structure used by Brooks’ as quite easy to read. I believe that starting the novel with “Leaf-Fall 1666” then venturing back to “Spring 1665” to hear the tale of Anna Frith and the village of Eyam, to learn about what was to take place throughout their ‘Year of Wonders’.
Once the novel advances through the year we eventually meet back up with “Leaf-Fall 1666” feeling like that I had been on a journey with the characters with everything they faced through all their ups and downs. This structure made for a more enjoyable reading and really made me connect with the characters. Though saying this if I was to meet Geraldine Brooks’ there would be a few ideas for changes that I would make to the novel. For instance the major change is that I believe the ending is a bit farfetched, I trust that Anna should defiantly leave the Village of Eyam but to then end up in Oran I think is a little unbelievable.
The title for ‘Year of Wonders’ I find is very appropriate for this historical novel and I wouldn’t change it at all. Through Anna’s eyes and her religious beliefs she would of described that terrible year of 1666, marked by plague, the Great Burning and the war with the Dutch, she would have truly believed that ‘God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform’. Therefore the title ‘Year of Wonders’ to me is appropriate. The role of women is depicted with special emphasis in ‘Year of Wonders’.
Brooks’ is careful to show the reader what few rights women have and what powers men can have over them. The Majority of women in ‘Year of Wonders’ seemed to accept the typical 17th century subordinate role in which they had to defer to them men. The women also believed in getting married, having children and being good housewives was the right thing to do, while Anys Gowdie pushed the envelope and stayed a single independent woman, who worked and provided for herself and had relationships with whomever she chose.
I was very surprised when I learnt about Elinor’s and Michael’s secret, though it didn’t really change my view or opinion of them. I believe it actually made them more humanistic. Until the secret was revealed I believe that they were too perfect in every way they were describe it made them seem like they had no flaws. With the news about their marriage it made them seem like normal people with normal problems. I learnt a one main thing from the villagers of Eyam, I learnt how sometimes you have to do things that you wouldn’t want to do to benefit and keep other people safe.
I don’t think I would be able to relate the town’s extraordinary sacrifice to our own time. These days we have much better technology to battle sickness and to be able to react quickly and efficiently in a crisis. The sacrifice of the fire fighters on Black Saturday to risk their own lives to protect others is the best example to relate the risk and bravery that the villagers of Eyam showed. Nowadays if a village faced the same threat as the village of Eyam I don’t think it would be realistic to make the same decision.