Based on historical events, Year of Wonders is the story of a small village in Derbyshire that quarantined itself when plague struck in 1665 to prevent the disease spreading to neighbouring villages.
For the time, the decision to quarantine the village was unique and courageous. It’s well documented that Londoners fled the capital during the Great Plague and the king removed his court for the duration. Whilst I don’t doubt they helped stop spread of infection, there’s a point in the book stating that the rest of Derbyshire was plague free whilst in reality it did strike Derby in 1665 (they still have their vinegar stone similar to that in this book).
Anna’s narrative is a bit restrictive as a rural housemaid and at times I thought she knew more that she should have under the circumstances. Even so, there wasn’t enough information for me on the plague itself or the herbal remedies that were thought of as witchcraft. There were references which I thought without a good knowledge of 17th century English history you wouldn’t get.
It would be hard to have written this novel without including some religious aspects but it started to take over the story somewhat. It focused a lot on whether this was punishment from god, a test or brought on by the devil. I started to feel that you can’t have it both ways, that god is good and loving yet puts you through something as horrific as bubonic plague! The religious debate is more than would be believable for someone of Anna’s age and background to be involved in too.
The ending seemed to veer off completely and felt like it belonged to a completely different novel. For me, the historical aspect would have been good enough an ending for me and the last minute drama was a bit off-putting.
This was one of my “Books I should have read by now” challenge choices from books I’ve had for ages and not picked up. I enjoyed it for the historical aspect but wouldn’t rush out to buy more of her books.
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