Monday, September 4, 2017

The Wonder: a book review

The WonderThe Wonder by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has a slow fuse and the plot sizzles very quietly and seems muffled through the early parts of the book. There is a point though, where everything changes and things suddenly seem to have many possible paths on the way to some sort of resolution. The slow fuse works well as an important device in the narrative, if you stick with the author.

I found the story socially interesting and in the end very satisfying, although Irish people may find themselves bristling under their collars from time to time-either in denial or embarrassment. The story represents very much a superior British kind of attitude, quite typical of the time, but challenging nonetheless. I can't help wondering how the story would feel if an Irish nurse faced a similar situation at a similar time in the back streets of inner London, but that would deny us the necessary remoteness of the influence of Florence Nightingale, and the particularly Roman Catholic excesses of the time which do make for a robust plot. Either way, it doesn't matter in judging a good read, and this is one.

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The intro blurb on Goodreads says:

In the latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels--a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

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