The Literary Melodrama Year Of Wonders

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The literary melodrama Year of Wonders (2001), by Geraldine Brooks, is a moving story of a community who quarantines itself in a great act of selflessness. Year of Wonders is a first person account of the plague, is told through the eyes of Anna Frith, a servant of the Monpellion household.
Anna is a woman believed to be around 20 years old, who suffered physical and mental abuse at the hand of her father throughout her childhood. Anna spends the most duration of the novel in the village of Eyam, Derbyshire England, where, during her ‘annus mirabilis’, she steps out of her day to day and assumes responsibility for much of the village.
Year of Wonders has become a favourite of many and is unique in its approach to life and death, inspiring
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However, in doing so, Anna also grows greater than her place in history.
Due to the novel’s reverse chronological order, the reader often draws parallels and fills in the gaps as the novel progresses. An example of this is on page 9, where Anna confides her sentiments to the reader, stating that losing herself, “in someone else’s thoughts is the greatest relief I can find from the burden of my own memories.” This is later built upon in the novel, where the source of her gloomy sentiments are revealed to the reader.
The novel subtly describes the changes in the hierarchy of society throughout the duration of the plague, symbolising ideas that are later built upon. Brook’s use of symbolism in ‘leaf fall,’ 1666, leaves large gaps which are filled through reader reception theory and a careful articulation of events in the leading up to the final conclusion. These gaps are key in inspiring the audience to be active readers, drawing on individual and personal experience for clarification. However, the result of Brooks telling the story she thinks the audience wants to hear, only achieves the opposite, making the novel an unrealistic and biassed representation of women in 17th century England.

It is the tale of a village who quarantines itself in a great act of self-sacrifice, which still inspires self-reflection in 21st-century audiences.

Brooks tells the tale of the plague through the eyes of an unlikely
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