I recently read Geraldine Brooks most current book Horse and enjoyed it. I decided to try her first novel Year of Wonders and I am so glad I did. I actually enjoyed it even more than Horse, and I’m not sure why it did not receive more praise. Here is my book review Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.
Loosely based on Eyram Derbyshire, a real village that had to quarantine itself during the black plague. Brooks creates a fictional village in 1666. When an infected bolt of fabric makes its way to the isolated village from London, the protagonist Anna’s life will change forever.
Brooks tells a beautiful but sad tale of loss, fear, love and superstition. Anna will find herself thrust into a caretaker and healer, while much of the village dies, mourns the dead, and reverts to long-held superstitions and witchcraft to try to ward off the plague.
As the year of quarantine wanes and death visits every door, Anna, the local priest and his wife, will work themselves nearly to death trying to care for both the physical and spiritual bodies of the village folk.
Brooks writes with a profound emotional voice, with great detail, sharing the journey of this period of history through the thoughtful heroine Anna will become. The ending was, for me, unexpected but fulfilling. I loved this character Anna, her strength and perspective on life. Thank you for reading my book review Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
*****Five stars for Year of Wonders
See last week’s book review Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
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Yes this book is about a horse. In fact a real historical horse. But it is about so very much more. At the heart of this book, it is a story about racism in America past and present. I really loved it. Here is my book review Horse by Geraldine Brooks.
Personally I am not a horse person, and the horse portrayed in this book called Lexington is not an animal I was familiar with. But if you are a horse person you might be aware of the historical lineage of Lexington. That in itself was a fascinating part of this book, but not the most fascinating to me.
This beautiful novel follows three different storylines all connected to the Horse. First we meet Jarret in 1850 Kentucky. A Negro slave who becomes the groom to a bay foal. This relationship will form the base of the novel and follow Lexington and Jarrett and their owners through record-setting races, unimaginable profits and into the US Civil War.
Next we meet Martha Jackson a New York City art gallery owner whose mother was an accomplished equestrian but died after a mishap on a horse. Martha becomes enamored with a painting that seems so familiar and yet how could it be?
Finally, Washington DC 2019. Pre-pandemic and we meet Nigerian born Theo an art historian and Jess an Australian born scientist at the Smithsonian. Jess and Theo are unexpectedly thrown together when Theo finds a piece of artwork in a rubbish pile.
I really enjoyed Brooks’ ability to connect multiple story lines to Horse – Lexington – both through amazing historical research as well as brilliant fictional development to build the plot. Throughout the book you will find both real life historical figures entwined with fictional ones, both human and equine.
Using a thoroughbred horse to teach us lessons in racism is a brilliant play by Geraldine Brooks. I loved it. And learned a lot. Thank you for reading my book review Horse by Geraldine Brooks.
*****Five stars for Horse by Geraldine Brooks
Read last week’s book review Bewilderment by Richard Powers here https://myfabfiftieslife.com/book-review-bewilderment-by-richard-powers/
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