Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Spring 1666: when the Great Plague reaches the quiet Derbyshire village of Eyam, the villagers make an extraordinary decision. They elect to isolate themselves in a fateful quarantine. So begins the Year of Wonders, seen through eighteen-year-old Anna Frith’s eyes as she confronts the loss of her family, the disintegration of her community, and the lure of a dangerous and illicit love. Based on a true story, this novel explores love and learning, fear and fanaticism, and the struggles of seventeenth-century science and religion to interpret the world at the cusp of the modern era.
I read a review about this a few years ago and loved the sound of it. I’d forgotten all about it though until I found it in a charity shop recently. What a fabulous book!
Based on a true story, it tells how the plague is brought to the small village of Eyam in some flea ridden cloth sent from London to a journeyman tailor lodging with Anna. The villagers take the decision to quarantine themselves, leaving money and requests for goods on the village boundary stone and in return, people from the next village leave the items for them to collect, ensuring that they are able to survive without contact with the outside world. I say survive, but in reality about 75% of the village inhabitants were victims of this horrific, painful death.
The book is so well written that it’s easy to lose yourself in it. I would love to visit Eyam, which I know has a good museum dedicated to this remarkable incident.