Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

the-wonderThe Premise: Lib Wright, a nurse trained by Florence Nightingale, comes to mid-19th century Ireland to observe Anna, an 11 year old girl who is claimed to have gone without food for 4 months. Is it a miracle? Is it a scam? Does Lib display almost dangerous levels of skepticism about the whole thing? All these answers, and more, await.

Happy Bookworm: The Wonder is worryingly compelling; I was far too absorbed in the whole story and yearned to get back to it every time I had to put it down. Lib’s cynicism about Anna’s ‘Wonder‘ status drives the novel, forcing the reader to assume there must be more to the story than she thinks (because otherwise, what would be the point of all her eye-rolling?); despite this, Lib is a really sympathetic character, extremely well-realised and interesting, with a back-story that is carefully revealed throughout.  The central plot creates a really good mystery; I found myself trying to figure out the truth from a really early stage, and Donoghue provides enough twists to keep the reader intrigued throughout. The story is set against a realistic backdrop of 19th century Ireland, with the potato famine and intense focus on religion playing important roles in the events, and I found this historical setting very fascinating.

Sad Bookworm: I can’t really think of any faults with The Wonder. I wasn’t a big fan of Donoghue’s massive hit, Room, so I went into this without colossally high expectations, and was very pleasantly surprised. Some of the developments are quite upsetting, but handled very sympathetically.

In Conclusion: The Wonder had a lot going for it before I even started reading; it’s qute short (very helpful for someone trying to read all the books in the world) and has a very beautiful cover. These things matter to me. Aside from these superficial advantages, it’s a deeply enthralling, quite creepy and unpredictable read, which will intrigue you from start to finish.

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