Virgin's Guide to Burning Man

A Virgin's Guide to Burning Man can be found here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Year of Wonders

Book Review: Year of Wonders, A Novel of the Plague
Author: Geraldine Brooks

This book is an amazing testament to the vivacity of the human spirit, our ability to meet calamity, to sacrifice ourselves for a greater good, and find the strength and will to endure.

Set in 1666, the novel chronicles the goings-on of a small mountain village in England, where an infected bolt of cloth had carried the plague from London and beset the village in tragedy. The story is told through the eyes of a young, widowed housemaid, Anna, who unwittingly becomes the town's healer. Led by their minister, the town voluntarily elects to quarantine themselves to prevent the spread of the plague, thus sacrificing themselves to save other towns from the same fate. As the town suffers, not knowing the cause nor cure for the disease, they battle with questions of faith, of good and evil, and of justice. And the town learns that sometimes disease is not the only threat to survival.

It's a relatively short book, especially for a work of historical fiction, but it is chock-full of truths about humanity and our existence in this life. It is vivid and engaging, with strong and well-developed characters. It does a fantastic job of transporting the reader to another world and another time. I was feeling a little melancholy before I read this book, but envisioning the hard lives of our ancestors makes me only that much more grateful for the time in which I now live. True, suffering is a constant part of human existence, ever eternal and universal. But going back to another time helps put some things in perspective, and serves as a reminder that sometimes petty grievances and just petty grievances.

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