Friday, April 03, 2020

A Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks

Brooks was a longtime foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, reporting from war torn areas around the world and had previously written two non fiction books about her escapades. This 2001 story, subtitled A Novel About the Plague, was recommended at the beginning of our current viral lockdown (along with Camus' The Plague, which is now a best seller and so it is comparatively costly) and seemed appropriate to consume in these troubled days.

This historical novel is based in the 1600's in the times of the Black Plague ,showing people's reactions to the scourge, from those retreating to religious extremism, to those who would capitalize upon it to those who went mad to those who grew stronger physically and emotionally due to their trials. Based on a true story of a small British village that self quarantined to avoid spreading the plague, Brooks imagines the struggles of the preacher's servant girl and, from her point of view, the horrors that the village endured as the sickness took a large percentage of the population. She survives and grows and discovers strengths she never knew she had, as we can only hope that others will do in our current times and comparatively easy quarantine.

Maybe a bit depressing, but quite well written and it shows that there can be hope even in the worst of times.