I love – and hate – when I begin a book that I can’t put down so I speed read late into the night just to see what will happen next and before I know it I’ve finished the tale. That’s what just happened with Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder.
The story takes place during the late 1850’s in a small out-of-the way town in Ireland and revolves around two characters: Lib, an English atheist and Florence Nightingale trained nurse and Anna, a devoutly Catholic 11-year old who has survived on ‘manna from heaven’ for 4 months. We follow Lib and Anna over a two-week span of time, as they go from wary strangers to fast family. Along the way questions of family, faith, science, service, media, and fame are explored. Ms. Donoghue is so adept at weaving a nuanced, layered tale I found myself going from ‘no way’ to ‘what if’ before ending in ‘of course’ after finishing the last page and then immediately wanting more.
This is the third Emma Donoghue book that I’ve read and she has become one of my favorite fiction writers. I first read Room, which I found to be claustrophobically incredible (although it left me with no desire to view the movie adaptation). My next Emma book was Frog Music , a murder mystery about a cross-dressing, bicycle riding frog catcher that I learned was based on actual people living in San Francisco during the smallpox epidemic and heat wave of 1876. After reading a bit more about Ms. Donoghue I am adding The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits , Life Mask , and The Sealed Letter to my must read list. If these books are half as good as the first three I will be in for a real reading treat.
How about you. Have you read any of Emma’s books? Which was your favorite? Id love to know…