Reading guide for Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Year of Wonders

A Novel of The Plague

by Geraldine Brooks

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks X
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2001, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2002, 320 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. All of the characters in this novel have their failings and as a result they are all fully human. Are you surprised by the secrets Elinor and Michael Mompellion each reveal to Anna about their marriage? How do they change your feelings about each character? Do they make either seem weaker in a way?
  2. The Bradford family bears the brunt of Mompellion's rage when they leave town to save themselves. However, weren't they only doing what every other noble family did in those days: run because they had the means to run? Setting aside the events near the end of the novel (which make it clear that one would be hard-pressed to find a redeeming quality in any of them), can you really blame the Bradfords for running?
  3. How much of Mompellion's push for the quarantine had to do with the secrets he shared with Elinor? Did his own dark side and self-loathing push him to sacrifice the town or was he really acting out of everyone's best interests?
  4. Keeping in mind that this story takes place a good twenty-five years before the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts, what is the role of the Gowdie women in the novel? What is it about these women that drives their neighbors to murderous rage? How does their nonconformity lead to their becoming scapegoats?
  5. How would you explain Anna's mental and spiritual unraveling? What are the pivotal experiences leading up to her breakdown and her eventual rebirth?
  6. Discuss the feminist undertones of the story. How does each female characterAnna, Elinor, the Gowdies, and even Anna's stepmotherexhibit strengths that the male characters do not?
  7. In a story where the outcome is already known from the very beginningmost of the villagers will diediscuss the ways in which the author manages to create suspense.
  8. The author creates an incredible sense of time and place with richly textured language and thoughtful detailsof both the ordinary (everyday life in Eyam) and the extraordinary (the gruesome deaths of the villagers). Discuss some of the most vivid images and their importance to the story and to your own experience reading it.
  9. Can we relate the story of this town's extraordinary sacrifice to our own time? Is it unrealistic to expect a village facing a similar threat to make the same decision nowadays? What lessons might we learn from the villagers of Eyam?
For more information about other Penguin Readers Guides, please call the Penguin Marketing Department at (800) 778-6425, email at reading@penguinputnam.com or write to us at:
Penguin Books, Marketing Department CC, Readers' Guides, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3657


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Penguin. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Mighty Justice
    Mighty Justice
    by Dovey Johnson Roundtree , Katie McCabe
    What it's about:
    Dovey Johnson Roundtree was one of two lawyers who won the landmark case "Sarah ...
  • Book Jacket: The Seine
    The Seine
    by Elaine Sciolino
    Of the 24 members who reviewed Elaine Sciolino's The Seine: The River that Made Paris for BookBrowse...
  • Book Jacket: Fireborne
    Fireborne
    by Rosaria Munda
    Inspired by classical political theory and the French Revolution, Rosaria Munda's YA debut Fireborne...
  • Book Jacket: Frankissstein
    Frankissstein
    by Jeanette Winterson
    Jeanette Winterson's futurist sci-fi/alternative history hybrid unfolds in two main timelines. In ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The In-Betweens
    by Mira Ptacin

    "A fascinating history of an American community of Spiritualists... a fabulous read."
    —Elizabeth Gilbert
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Ordinary Girls
    by Jaquira Díaz

    Reminiscent of Tara Westover's Educate and Roxane Gay's Hunger--a memoir that reads as electrically as a novel.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Home for Erring and Outcast Girls

From the author of
Calling Me Home

An emotionally raw and resonant story of two young women connected by a home for "fallen girls," and inspired by historical events.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T Bite T B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.