Author: Emma Donoghue
Published: 20th September 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Date read: 27th January 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
An eleven-year-old girl stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse, sent to investigate whether she is a fraud, meets a journalist hungry for a story.
Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder – inspired by numerous European and North American cases of ‘fasting girls’ between the sixteenth century and the twentieth – is a psychological thriller about a child’s murder threatening to happen in slow motion before our eyes. Pitting all the seductions of fundamentalism against sense and love, it is a searing examination of what nourishes us, body and soul.
This is Emma Donoghue’s latest book on the market, prior to picking it up I had heard some mixed reviews but the synopsis is what really pulled me in and regardless of what other readers thought I was going to read it and form my own opinion.
Now I picked up ‘Room’ a few years back and read about half and put it down for some unknown reason. This book is not like ‘Room’ so try not go into it thinking it’s going to be.
This is a historical fiction novel set in rural Ireland just after the Crimean war. Our protagonist is an English nurse who served under Miss Nightingale and goes by the name of Lib Wright. Lib is sent over to Ireland to observe an 11-year-old girl, Anna, who has claimed to have not eaten anything over the last 2-3 months. Lib and a Catholic nun take it turns to watch over Anna, 24hrs a day to see if she really is a miracle as proclaimed by the locals.
I liked this book, I was enthralled by the mystery of a small girl claiming to not have eaten. I was hooked line and sinker wanting to find out what was really happening. How could a child not eat? Was it all just a ploy for fame and money?
This book has a lot with religion involved as all the community and the rest of Ireland are Catholics. I am not a religious person, so a lot of the verses and prayers that were being said went over my head. Religion is the essence of this book, it proves how devout and bordering fanatic people can become.
The Wonder is a very atmospheric book and has a lot of descriptive writing and you really get a feel for the village and the people.
I liked Lib our protagonist, she was determined to find out the truth, she was sceptical from the start and was convinced she would not be there for long. She got frustrated a lot of the time for multiple reasons. 1, The family were not very forthcoming and didn’t like having a stranger in their house (understandable). 2, Anna was very timid and would not open up to Lib. 3, The nun, wouldn’t confer with her as to what happened on her shifts as they were supposed to be forming their own opinions. 4, The doctor looked down on Lib as just ‘help’ and when she voiced her concerns about Anna, she was cut off and told to just do her job.
The couple of things that let the book down for me was the pace of the book. This is an incredibly slow paced book and may not be for everyone. I usually don’t mind slow paced books but it felt like there was a lot of repetition and at points I was thinking to myself that surely this couldn’t on like this for the next 200 odd pages but it did. I think this is for readers who like more atmosphere to their books.
I rated this 3 out of 5 stars