Tag Archives: Geraldine Brooks

Book Review: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (3/5)

14 Jan

This book was good. I enjoyed it. Was I let down by the last paragraph? Yes. Did that affect my rating? Likely. Maybe I’ll adjust my rating up to Four Stars at some point, but I’m going to stick with Three Stars for now. I’d still recommend it, though!

Cover image via Goodreads

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Other books by Brooks reviewed on this blog:

Year of Wonder

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its salvation back to its creation.

In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city’s rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna’s investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love.

I enjoyed how Brooks set up this novel. Hanna finds all of these remnants of previous times in the book, simple things, and then Brooks weaves the tale of the book and the people who have touched it and saved it. The book becomes the main character along with Hanna. It feels like the two are having a very one-sided conversation throughout. I felt Ozren was a side character and I was surprised when he came up again at the end. Honestly, his character frustrated me beyond reason and I hated him. I was mad Hanna didn’t share my sentiments. I felt like he was against the book and it’s best interests which, in my head, made him and Hanna rivals. I thought Hanna would see it the same way.

If we take out the last page, where Hanna trusts Ozren again, I thought the characters were well-built. Hanna is an independent woman, the product of her mother’s raising. She’s smart and her journey through the book struck me as sad but realistic. Ozren is a product of his time and place. He’s suffered at the hands of his homeland and he’s angry. I got it, really I did. But I didn’t see a reason for him to regret his actions and repent. Guilt doesn’t seem to be a strong enough reason for me.

Hanna was an easy favorite character (until the very end). I cheered her on during fights with her mother. I was excited by her professional accomplishments. I loved following her sleuthing as she found out the secrets of the people who had owned the book before her. This was a great mystery novel in that way. There were some owners I wanted to hear more about and I wished at times that I’d been able to connect the owners better (maybe I missed things) but I understood moving on from them as the book traveled. It was fun to think about an object being touched by so many people. It makes me angry to think about today’s throw-away culture. Few things we have would last that long.

Hanna was very different from me and her self-confidence was something I don’t see in myself that I liked in Hanna. She was so sure of her analysis on the book, so confident that it was false. Even her friend and mentor contradicting her couldn’t sway her. I admired that. I’m not sure I would have been that strong if told I’d made a mistake in my work. Granted, I’m a bit younger and I have no PhD to back up my opinion, but I still felt her confidence was admirable.

Image via the Jewish Women’s Archive

I liked the flashback stories that explained the damages to the book and how it got to where it was. There isn’t a particular one I liked most, but I thought they were all well-constructed. Brooks built characters that had distinct characteristics so it didn’t feel like re-use characters appeared story to story. I like how she gave a variety of people with different religions, life situations, and reasons for having the book. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the rabbi with the gambling problem. I loved how she described his addiction.

I’ll finally talk about the end of the book so skip this if you don’t want it spoiled. I never felt Ozren was a very admirable character and I never felt that Hanna had strong lasting feelings toward him. Yes, he saved the book. But we’re introduced to a number of characters who do the same. He suffered a great loss and I pitied him, but I didn’t like him. I felt the things Hanna did for him were out of friendship. When he wouldn’t support her opinion on the Haggadah and she left, I felt any affection between them was severed. It seemed odd to use their relationship to bring back the real Haggadah because I felt there was nothing there. I could understand the scheme to replace the book. But what really got me was them being intimate after they were done. I didn’t think Ozren had done anything to win Hanna’s affection back and he had not been admirable since his deception had caused this problem in the first place. I felt Hanna was built up to be a strong woman who wouldn’t fall into bed with a man who smiled at her and my opinion of Hanna sank with the ending of the book. I wish that small part had been left out because it undermined her character.

My audiobook was narrated by Edwina Wren. I adored her narration. She gave the base accent for Hanna, Australian, but supplied accents and dialects to the multitude of European characters in the book in a very engaging way. I enjoyed hearing Ozren and the British forensic scientist and the American relatives and all the other speakers who made up the world of the book. Wren was able to bring them all to life wonderfully.

The life a book can take, and the people it can impact, is incredible. I was really blown away by the path the book took to end up in Sarajevo. I was touched by the care people took to make and preserve the book. Our history is told through ‘things.’ In this case, the people who preserved the book were mostly forgotten by history, but the book itself told their story. People don’t live forever, but things can last quite a long time. Their value and what we gain from them, are incredible and worth preserving. In some of these cases, they were worth dying for.

Writer’s Takeaway: It can be hard to have so many vignettes in a book and give it an arc but Brooks found an amazing way to do that. The book bound all the characters across time and location and unified many distinct stories. I loved how they came together to tell the story of a book. It’s a very unique idea and I think Brooks did it well. It was a story about a character who never changed or spoke but who you still cared for greatly. I thought that was innovative and creative.

An enjoyable book, though the very end was disappointing. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks | Only a Novel
Review: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks | Tales from Crazy House
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks | City of Canterbury Library
Geraldine Brooks – People of the Book | Fyrefly’s Book Blog
Geraldine Brooks – People of the Book | Lady Fancifull

WWW Wednesday, 26-December-2018

26 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m out of lunch breaks for the year and I really have to finish Henry VIII by William Shakespeare! This is my last book for the When Are You Reading? Challenge 2018. If this isn’t finished before the end of the year, I’m going to be very mad at myself.
I’m enjoying Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott but the holidays have kept me busy and away from it more than I’d like. I’m sure I’ll get it wrapped up, it may just be in January.
I started two new audiobooks! I finished my physical audiobook in my car and decided to start on another whopper, The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. It’s a whopping 21 disks long (though I swear the book doesn’t look that long!) so I’ll be on this one for quite a while.
I started a new eaudiobook as well, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I read Lawson’s first book for a book club a few years ago and loved it. My brother gave me a signed copy of this book for Christmas a few years ago and I’m finally listening to it because I’m paranoid about a signed book being damaged.

Recently finished: I was able to finish up The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati while baking Christmas cookies, which was a wonderful way to finish a book. I was really disappointed in the ending despite great writing and good characters. I debated my rating for a while but ultimately ended on Three out of Five Stars. I’ll be reviewing more books in the new year.
I wrapped up People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks over the weekend as well. I liked the ending of this one more, but there was one flaw in the main character that really peeved me right at the end. Another Three out of Five Stars rating.

Reading Next: I’ll start Before the Fall by Noah Hawley later today as my husband and I head to Ohio for family Christmas. I’m getting excited!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 19-December-2018

19 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I have been utilizing my baking time to listen to The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. I felt like I was absorbing the story well, but there’s a new character and I can’t remember where she came from. Maybe I’m not as great at audiobooks as I thought.
I’m still making progress with People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks though it has slowed down. I think I’ll finish by the end of the year. I think.
There have been a lot of lunches where I don’t read Henry VIII by William Shakespeare which has slowed me down a bit. I’m determined to finish this one so I can wrap up my reading challenge, so I’m still confident I’ll finish it!
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott has been enjoyable so far. She’s very funny and I like her simple writing advice. It makes me feel like I can still be a writer!

Recently finished: Nothing this week. I’m feeling good about next week, though! I think I’ll have a fair number to put here, at least one with a goal of up to three!

I was able to post my review of Brainiac by Ken Jennings on Thursday. It was a really fun read, great for vacation. I gave it Four out of Five stars.

Reading Next: I found a copy of Before the Fall by Noah Hawley and convinced him it will be an awesome one to listen to in the car. Honestly, it didn’t take a lot of convincing, he’s pretty relaxed and trusts my book recommendations. Smart man.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 12-December-2018

12 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m a bit slower with The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati now that I can’t run outside. I’m avoiding the ‘dreadmill’ as much as possible. I got a few hours in while running on vacation, though!
Being out-of-town didn’t help me make progress with People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I’m optimistic about finishing it now that I’m over halfway through. I’ll have to run some errands, I guess!
I made it to Act 2 of Henry VIII by William Shakespeare. I think I’m finally catching on to the plot. It helps a lot to know the time period well! I’ve read too many books, seen too many movies, and watched too many shoes about Henry VIII to be completely clueless!
I just started reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. This was one a writer-group friend brought up constantly and I figured I had it read it. It may have taken me five years, but I’m getting to it!

Recently finished: I utilized my vacation time well and got through a whole book! It was perfect because I finished Brainiac by Ken Jennings while waiting for our ride to pick us up at the airport once we landed in Detroit. I celebrated by starting the Netflix episodes of Jeopardy! that are available. I think Ken will be in the Decade Tournament that’s available. My review will be up tomorrow.

I got a few reviews posted as well. Monday I was able to post about Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I gave it Four out of Five Stars because I liked the adventure and I appreciate all the pirate references that were taken from this classic tale.
I also reviewed The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl on Tuesday. Honestly, this isn’t one I enjoyed so much. I gave it only Two out of Five Stars and even then I was thinking I might lower the rating.

Reading Next: I’m taking my husband into listening to Before the Fall by Noah Hawley with me when we make our annual Christmas drive to Southern Ohio. To those who have read it, is this one we could both enjoy on a long car ride?


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 5-December-2018

5 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I feel like I’ll be listening to The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati for the rest of my life. It’s very long and I’m only half way through it. I also keep thinking that halfway through this book is longer than most other books I’ve read this year. I’m loving it, so there’s no hardship.
I’m still moving forward with People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks but it’s a slower crawl. I’m glad I’m not spending as much time in the car, but I miss going through books quickly!
I’m finishing up my historical fiction challenge with a Shakespeare and I decided on Henry VIII. I’m not very far along yet and I’m already a bit confused about what is happening, but that’s normal for me in a Shakespeare play. I’m sure I’ll figure it out before long.
I was able to pick a book off of my TBR and grabbed Brainiac by Ken Jennings. If you’re a huge Jeopardy nerd like me, you’ll recognize Jennings as the contestant who had an epic run back in the 2004 time frame. I watched him every night with my mom. I’m so excited to hear what he has to say about other trivia buffs.

Recently finished: I finished Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson during my lunch. I’m so glad I did, I felt like I was dragging in this one and I’d never finish it. But somewhere around 60% I just dug in and powered on. I can’t wait to watch the Muppet version to compare!
I finally wrapped up The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl! Before you ask, no, the ending did not make up for the slow plot. I’ll be reviewing this next week but I already know it won’t score high.

Reading Next: I’ve decided to wait on Before the Fall by Noah Hawley and do it on audio CD when I finish People. I don’t have to get to this one any time soon, so I’ll take my time and wait.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 28-November-2018

28 Nov

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m really focusing on The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl because I want to wrap it up. It’s been dragging forever and I’m really wishing it would just end.
I hoped to ignore SportsBall on Thanksgiving by reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson on my phone but the couch was so comfortable that I just fell asleep and didn’t get through much. I’m trying not to see this as time wasted because it was a very good nap.
I’m making progress on The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati as my husband has been very busy. When I’m home alone, I put this one while I do chores and I get through over an hour a day doing that. It’s a nice way to feel like there’s someone at home with me and still be an introvert.
It’s slower going on People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks since my class is over and I’m not driving to school every week. I’m still getting a reasonable amount of time in the car, but this will slow down a bit now that I have shorter jaunts in the car.

Recently finished: Nothing! It’s a bit of a slow week with Thanksgiving in the middle. I have a plane trip coming up and I’m hopeful I can get some more reading in while I’m in the air.

Reading Next: I still plan to tackle Before the Fall by Noah Hawley but I’m still unsure of what format to use. I can get an ebook, audiobook on CD, or physical book. I might wait for the CD and let myself enjoy some books off my shelf before the holidays. TBD but for sure reading this one!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 21-November-2018

21 Nov

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I made small progress with The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl and I think I’ll devote a little more time to it, but I might put it aside again soon. Honestly, it’s failing to grasp me and I can tell already that this will be a Two or Three Star book for me. It’s just not going anywhere.
I really dropped off my reading of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson after moving so far with it last week. I’ve had busy lunches at work and not a lot of time outside to read it. I have to finish by the end of the year and I know I’ll make that though it may be a bit closer than I’d anticipated.
I’m already a third of the way through The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. It’s hard not to think that I could have listened to a normal-length book in this same time. I’ll be on this one for a while, to be sure.
I’m enjoying People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks though I no longer think it will be my 1600s book for When Are You Reading? The timeline isn’t firmly set then and I want to get a book that better fits the period.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway late last week. I’m not a bit fan of short story collections but I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would. Nick is very much like Hemingway, as are many of his characters, but I enjoyed reading about his time in Northern Michigan. I posted a review Monday so please check that out for more opinions. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

I posted a review of Old School by Tobias Wolff last week. I liked this one a lot and it reminded me of some other books I’ve read and enjoyed before. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I have a bit of freedom here at the end of the year as my book clubs take time off for us to be with our families. I’ll probably start on the January book to get it out of the way. Our next one is Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. As is my preferred method of reading, I know nothing about this one and I’ll just hope for the best.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 14-November-2018

14 Nov

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I started The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl again! I’m excited to get back to it and finish this one so I can start on some new books.
I’ve made decent progress on Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I’m going to have to watch the Muppet version of this when I’m done. I wonder how much they kept the same.
I was proud of how much of The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati I’ve listened to but then I was reminded that it’s 31 hours long and I’ll be listening to this for the better part of a month. I’m in for the long haul.
I’ve enjoyed some of The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway more than others. Some are so short I’m not sure what I’m supposed to get out of them. I’m not sure how much Hemingway meant for them to be put together in a collection. They seem to be in chronological order which I don’t think is how they were written. Maybe they’d make more sense in another order.

Recently finished: I finished Old School by Tobias Wolff on Sunday as I recovered from a half marathon. I needed to sit, haha. It was a nice, short book. I was reminded of A Separate Peace which is a favorite of mine so it was almost nostalgic.

I was able to post two reviews, though. Monday I posted about Not Me by Michael Lavigne. The book wasn’t a favorite and the ending upset me so I rated it Three out of Five stars.
I also reviewed That Night by Chevy Stevens. This one was the complete opposite. It grabbed me from the beginning and kept me listening as often as I could. I gave it Five out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’ve got to get through one more book to finish my When Are You Reading? Challenge. I picked People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I read another Brooks book for this time period last year as well (1600s) and it’s getting hard to find some. I may have to re-define my time periods going forward to make it a bit easier! I’ll be starting this when I finish Hemingway.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 25-October-2017

25 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m getting close to half-way in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison but a few busy weeks at work is likely going to make for slow going. I will endure!
I’m really enjoying Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and I think I’ll finish it this week, time permitting. It’s hard to put my finger on what makes his writing so great but this story is amazing.
I started a new audiobook and it’s a quick one! I’m embarrassed to admit I’m a Detroiter who’s never read Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. I know this is going to be a quick one so I expect it will be on my finished list next week. Fingers crossed!

Recently finished: I finished Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks on Friday during a run. I wish it had ended without an epilogue! I think the story was really good but the epilogue ruined it. I wrote a review and posted it Monday if you want to check out some more of my feelings on the book.

Reading Next: I had another book club selection here, but I might not be going to book club now. I know, I’m a terrible person having missed the last three for this group! I’ve had good reasons each time, I promise. In my defense, it’s an annual meet-the-players night for the Detroit Red Wings. I’ve gone the last two years and loved it and I think I’m going to have to go again in the new arena! TBD still, so I’m saying I don’t know what I’ll read next.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks

23 Oct

This is the last book I needed to read for the When Are You Reading? Challenge! This book was carefully selected for its setting in the 1600s. I’ve found there’s not a lot of books set in this era so it’s become a struggle each year to find a new book with this time period setting. I’m sure I’ll find more and hopefully, they’re not all depressing and about the plague!

Cover image via Goodreads

Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks

Summary from Goodreads:

When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna’s eyes we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition. As death reaches into every household and villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must find the strength to confront the disintegration of her community and the lure of illicit love. As she struggles to survive and grow, a year of catastrophe becomes instead annus mirabilis, a “year of wonders.”

I liked this book through the last chapter but I wish I hadn’t read the epilogue. It really ruined what had been a dynamic book. I liked that the character’s lives kept changing and that I couldn’t guess the terrors that would befall the citizens of the village and the characters we loved. I liked the dramatic irony of knowing Eleanor was going to die but not knowing how. It kept me on the edge of my seat. I think the epilogue was predictable and it made me roll my eyes. What is it about women having to get pregnant as their lives change at the end of best-selling books? I had a flashback to Sarah’s Key. It was too similar and soured the taste of what was an enjoyable book despite its depressing subject.

Anna was almost too perfect but her flaws made her believable enough. She didn’t seem to express too much emotion but that may have been the reader of my audiobook (the author herself). She had her moments of self-pity but was always able to pick herself back up. It seemed unbelievable but juxtaposed next to so many people who didn’t recover, she seems slightly more believable. Michael and Eleanor were great characters and I think they really made the novel.

Eleanor was a great character and it was hard not to love her. I felt bad for her, especially when Michael revealed his true colors. Even before then, it was obvious she was a sad person and that she was trying to atone for some great loss or fault. Her giving nature was contagious to Anna and I wished that it had been passed on to other women in the village.

Though I’ve never had a situation like Anna’s, I could understand her thoughts about giving up. I think a lot of people experience this when it comes to difficult work assignments, school, or relationships. Sometimes, it’s so tempting to give up and let yourself be overrun. Anna’s situation was truly dire, more so than anything I’ve experienced. Regardless, I’ve still felt the desire to curl up into a ball and forget about everyone else or to have enough to drink to forget for a moment that something terrible is happening. I guess we all have to be like Anna and not give into those thoughts every time they cross our minds.

Image via Amazon

Following Aphra’s demise was the most interesting part of the book for me. She was never a character I cared for much but I pitied her and watching her life slip away from her was heartbreaking which, in turn, means it was very well written. I could see how she would find everything that had rooted her slowly slipping away and I could see how it would come to the end and how she found herself. It’s sad to see that happen to a person but Brooks wrote it in a very believable way.

But that ending! The epilogue really ruined the book for me. I recommend anyone reading this book stop and not read the epilogue. I think Anna riding away from town would have been a fine ending but learning that she’d had a baby and named her Eleanor was too much of an eye-roller for me. Anna cared so much for her village and it was hard enough to think she’d leave them all but with her mothers’ instinct, I could almost believe it. Still, I wish it had stopped just a bit sooner.

The audiobook was narrated by the author and this is one of the cases where I think that was a terrible idea. Brooks made Anna sound drab and in a sense, I guess she was. However, the effect was that Anna felt removed from her emotions and almost had a ‘dead inside’ feel to her. She seemed to react superficially to everything around her and it was like she was a narrator and not a player in the story until the end when she got involved with Michael. I wish a professional narrator had done this one because I think I would have enjoyed it much more.

This story is one of loss and grief and how people deal with those two things. Anna and Eleanor fight to keep everything and don’t let their grief overwhelm them. Aphra lets her loss affect her entire life and loses herself in grief. The other villagers fall somewhere between these women and the book lets us see the interplay between the group. Both can be deadly.

Writer’s Takeaway: I felt like Anna was too much of a window to the plague and not enough a player in the story. This is why I can’t give this book a higher rating. Maybe it was the narration, but I think at least part of it was the writing. I wish Anna had been a bit more vested in most of the story. With her boys passing so early on, she felt numb to other people’s grief because she was living in a cloud of her own and only watching what happens around her. She finally had that fog lift at the end, but I wasn’t emotionally invested in her anymore. I would say that pacing the book differently and letting Jamie and Tom live longer might have helped me stay vested in Anna’s grief.

This was going to be a four-star read for me until the epilogue. Three out of Five stars.

This is the final book of the When Are You Reading? Challenge and I’ve now completed it! This book fulfilled the 1600-1699 time period.

Until next time, write on.

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Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks | Blogging for a Good Book