The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks

Let’s get the snark out of the way: This is the best book about the plague I’ve ever read.

in fact, it’s an excellent book, I highly recommend it, and it will be among the books I suggest for my book group to read for next time. Based on real-life events in the remote English village of Eyam in 1665, Year of Wonders describes the fate of the villagers after they decide to isolate themselves in order to avoid spreading the disease to others. The protagonist, a housemaid named Anna, joins with Elinor, the wife of the town’s minister, in reconstructing the craft of two murdered herbalists in an attempt to determine how best to care for the sick while strengthening those who are well. As families disintegrate due to the deaths of loved ones, they increasingly find themselves making decisions that affect the entire community.

I liked the pacing, the writing style, and the characterizations. I also thought Brooks achieved a rare depth — this is a book that made me think, unlike some of the “brain candy” novels that just fill the time. Her research appears to have been thorough, yet she doesn’t smack you in the face with the notion that you’re reading a well-researched book. I hate it when authors fling little factoids at the reader to show off their work, and I imagine Brooks had many opportunities to do that, but she presented a balanced, well-integrated story. I did feel the ending was a bit rushed and somewhat fantastic compared to the rest of the story, yet it worked for me.

There is quite a bit of death in this book, and some violence against people. As for animals, there is a horse named Anteros who plays a significant role in the story. Anna takes over a dead person’s cow and helps a sheep deliver a lamb. Although the absence of cats and dogs were a factor in the overpopulation of the rats that spread of the plague, Brooks only mentions this in her afterword, which makes sense since there would have been no way for Anna to make that connection. I am declaring this book to be SAFE for animal lovers.

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October 31, 2008 - Posted by | animals, Book Reviews, history, literature | , , , , , ,

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