Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Year Of Wonders

So, I promised you a review and I am sticking to it!  I have so many books I own but haven't read (hundreds actually, if we're honest.....our movers looked pained when they realized how many).  Year Of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks was one of them.  I came across it while going through a box looking for something else and decided to go ahead and read it.  I am so glad I did!  

It's about the plague town of Eyam, Derbyshire in England.  The author took the true accountings of the town and created a work of fiction, and did so in a way that keeps you reading, waiting for what is to come.  The main character Anna is a woman who works in the rectory, and the story is told through her eyes.  It's the story of how one town when they realized the plague was among them chose to shut their town down to prevent it's spread to other towns.  The madness ensues as more and more die, and the rector tries encouraging them to see it as an opportunity.  In the end some people are not as they seem, and others are far better.  I think it weaves it's way into your mind quite easily and wraps up in a way that seems, to me, quite perfect.  I highly encourage finding a copy at your local library (or buying it for a couple dollars "used" from amazon).  

The story itself intrigues me, since it's a point in history I have always found fascinating.  And the idea of a town simply deciding to shut itself down is so strange and brilliant, in a selfless way.  This is before they knew what brought the plague (the fleas on the rats mainly, although there is a airborne strand as well, but particularly well), and the main character eventually aids in trying to find ways to keep people healthy to try and prevent it.  What fascinates me is that the plague still exists today, with the World Health Organization reporting 1,000 to 3,000 cases a year.  Today, however with quick diagnoses many are treated and saved with antibiotics.  According to the CDC about 14% (1 in 7) cases in the U.S. are fatal.  I am going to assume that is front late diagnosis.  If a town here in the U.S. got an outbreak, would they shut down?  Or would we try to run from it, to save ourselves?  That is exactly how it got so bad in England when the huge outbreaks occurred.  People looking to save themselves rather than keeping it locked down in London ended up spreading it throughout the country.  Well, let's hope we never are faced with such a choice!

1 comment:

  1. I've read this book too, and really enjoyed it.....but as for your question about a modern day reaction, there is a movie called "Outbreak" with Dustin Hoffman in it that has a similar line - one town, illness, locked down, but set in modern day.....