Sunday, January 29, 2017

Geraldine Brooks' "Year of Wonders": Audiobook Review

"Another Journal of the Plague Year"
Is there anything you would change about this book?
The epilogue could have been expanded into a sequel.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
How a Derbyshire village (based on a real one) chose to quarantine itself in 1665-6. Certainly a fascinating idea, as Geraldine Brooks mentioned in her afterword. Full of dramatic potential. The herbal lore and midwifery showed her research come alive. But the plot failed too often to grip my attention. Characters did undergo change, but the daily elements were somehow less vivid despite the descriptions of the plague and the violence that ensued. It did not immerse me into the experiences as much as a better novelist could have achieved.

How did the narrator detract from the book?
Her soft voice for the protagonist was unable to convey in male characters the range of emotions and timbre necessary. While the tone grew on me for the main character, it could not capture the others in the village sufficiently, in a sing-song muted register throughout.

Could you see Year of Wonders being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?
It could be a movie. Perhaps with Benedict Cumberbatch as the reverend, and Emma Stone as Anna Frith.

Any additional comments?
To her credit, Brooks summons the phrasing of mid-17c British diction well. The book does feel genuine in the rhetorical and tonal choices she makes. Maybe it'd work better on paper.

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