Victoria is an avid reader whose opinions are based on the genre of each story and how each novel ranks in its genre.
Take a step back in time to a small village in the heart of Ireland during the mid-19th century where a seemingly normal devote Catholic family's daughter has decided that she no longer requires food to survive. Impossible right? However, the family also claims their daughter Anna has been without sustenance for approximately four months and shows no signs of medical repercussions. The townspeople are in awe of this littor girl and would like her to be named a saint under the Catholic system. In order to do so, the family is required to put the 11-year-old girl on a 24-hour watch for 2 weeks in order to prove this is not some elaborate hoax and the girl really is a saint, gifted by God the ability to survive without food.
Lib Wright was a nurse in one of the English wars trained under the renowned nurse Mrs. Nightingale. All nurses trained under her command were deemed the Nightingales and are sought after for their innate problem-solving skills and keen eyes for detail, making Lib the perfect candidate for the watch. When Lib arrives in Ireland she is overconfident and cocky, feeling in her core that Anna is just apart of an elaborate scheme, and feels that by unraveling this story will bring her great recognition back in England. Until Lib realizes things are not as simple as she may have originally thought and soon she wonders if this is not a matter of trickery but a slow murder happening right before her eyes.
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Why I Liked This Novel
- Plot: The plot of this story is very direct in the sense that the reader is given one simple question that drives you to read this story: How has this 11-year-old girl survived four months without food? It's simple and direct, but not as easy to figure out as the reader nor the main character, Lib, thought. Honestly, as the reader, I thought like main psychological thrillers I have read in the past that this one would be predictable and easy to figure out, but I was wrong. From the moment I opened this story I could not put it down needing to know how this child is surviving, and what is her driving force for fasting at such a young age.
- Characters: The two main characters in "The Wonder" are Lib, the nurse who is watching the child making sure she doesn't eat, and Anna, the child who claims to receive sustenance from God. These two characters were so well written they felt like real people. The reader is so completely able to connect with both simultaneously that it's incredible! Even the side characters feel full to the reader like they have a purpose and a story that fits the tangling of the plots web. In my opinion, this is one of the best stand-alone novels I have read for character development and reader connectivity.
Desperation was the mother of the makeshift.
— Emma Donoghue
- Writing style: "The Wonder" takes place in 1850 Ireland so as a reader one might be concerned about the language used and ones ability to comprehend and follow along, however, the author Emma Donoghue's writing style for this book was perfect. Lib is an English woman in Ireland, Donoghue utilizes her character as a cipher for there language style. following Lib's first-person perspective when she comes across a slang word the reader may not be familiar with, her character also ponders the meaning and comes to a conclusion on its English definition. Though the accent of the Irish people was not totally written in some of the pronunciations and slang were used to create the essence of being in Ireland also aiding in the novel's atmosphere.
- The end: As I stated previously in this review I entered this novel with the notion that I'd be able to figure out the plot with no trouble at all as well as the ending, but I was wrong. This stories ending took a turn that I could not imagine while reading and it was captivating! Now I can't venture too far into this without giving information away, but the ending alone is worth the read.
My One Complaint
Repetitious: One of the reasons I don't venture into psychological thrillers too often is because they are all about the "why" of a story and the "how" it happened. Typically, they have very little action so they can kind of drag a little and unfortunately "The Wonder" is no exception to this. Every fictional day in this story the reader goes through the same routines with the character Lib with only minor changes that drive the plot towards its ending. The benefit to this is the reader is given the ability to connect with both main characters gradually but at times it can be repetitious and a little boring.
My Final Thoughts
"The Wonder" by Emma Donoghue is a captivating read. It's one of those books that will have you sitting at working longing to finish the book, just simply because you want to know how it ends. Though you may not be sitting at the edge of your seat until the end it is a fast read being only 291 pages long in my hardcover edition I've shown at the top of this article. This is a story that will leave its readers with a sense of finality and desperation. Characters that leave a small mark on your heart and a plot that drives the story like nothing else I have ever read. I highly recommend this book with a large cup of coffee and box of tissues by your side.
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