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Year of WondersWho has read this?


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#1 vagansmom

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Posted 27 February 2004 - 12:40 PM

I did a search and noticed that Hans has read Year of Wonders so I hope he will chime in. I recently read it and wanted to see if anyone had the same feelings about the book.

I didn't like it very much :o It takes place during the plague in 1666. The story itself is decently engrossing but I had lots and lots of trouble finding it believable. I felt that this was one novel that imbued characters from that era with today's sensibilities. I WISH it were true but I'm very skeptical and so I ended up reading nearly the entire book with a raised eyebrow. I had the same problem with The Red Tent (which I finally gave up on because I found myself getting too annoyed) so I'm wondering if it's really just my own personal problem. :wink:

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 February 2004 - 06:03 PM

I've not read it, but the selection of title seems to suggest that the author has either an illiteracy about British history, or is trying to make an ironic point. The "year of wonders" (annus mirabilis) was 1759, when practically everything went right for Britain. 1665-66 is "the plague year" and ends with The Fire, which was part of the inspiration for the "tear it down and build anew" craze which lasted a good two hundred years, or rather, bad ones.

#3 Hans

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Posted 27 February 2004 - 11:39 PM

I was required to read it for school, and Geraldine Brooks came to talk about it. It is based on a real town in England during that year; she did a great deal of research, and there are many historically factual incidents. I am pretty sure that she mentioned someone of the time period calling 1665-1666 the "year of wonders" in writing, but am not 100% on that as this talk was at the very beginning of the year.

I had a similar response to vagansmom; while plenty of the events were quite plausible and based on historical record, I found the characterizations and some of the speech to be too modern as well.

However, it was really fascinating to listen to her tell us about everything that really did happen, the historical documents she read, and what the town is like now. I remember her saying at one point that a sign pointing the way to the town reads "plague village" and that it struck her as ironic that such a sign would be used to indicate an attraction! But it is true that the town really did seal itself off from the outside world, was given provisions by a local noble, and that it successfully prevented the plague from spreading, even though the cost in human lives was enormous.

#4 Mel Johnson

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Posted 28 February 2004 - 03:15 PM

There was a poem written in 1666 by John Dryden, entitled "Annus Mirabilis", celebrating the wonder of the recovery of London from plague, and then fire, and generally being happy about the devastation of London's Roman Catholic minority, bless his C of E old heart. :) :angelnot:

#5 Hans

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Posted 29 February 2004 - 07:37 PM

That's what she was referring to :unsure:. Thank you Mel for jogging my memory.

#6 Mel Johnson

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Posted 29 February 2004 - 08:16 PM

It was kind of funny, when you considered Dryden. He sucked up to all the Anglican authorities in England, and his eldest son ended up as chamberlain to the Pope, Mirabile dictu!

This was the era of "The Vicar of Bray" when officials fell all over one another to change denominations to suit the political winds!


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