on September 20th 2016
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.
The latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room*.
First, and foremost, I found the pacing to be unbearably slow. The first 50% of the book could have been written in far fewer pages without compromising the details of the story. The chapters were frustratingly long. I’m not a huge fan of long chapters to begin with, but when there’s not much going on, they only serve to add to the sense that the book is dragging on.
Then there are the characters. As a nurse by profession, I found Lib’s character to be judgmental and annoying. Anna, though likable, was a little too pious to be believable. I would have liked to see her religious fervor balanced with a bit more normal girlishness. In fairness, we did catch a few glimpses; a few more would have made her character more realistic. Sister Michael, Lib’s job-share nurse if you will, started out as dull and staunch but I grew to like her quite a lot.
In terms of setting, Emma Donoghue did a great job describing the Irish countryside and the living quarters of the characters. I also enjoyed learning about the potato famine and other Irish historical facts and customs which were seamlessly woven into the story.
The last 10-15% of the book certainly held my attention. I can’t say much about the ending without spoilers but it packed an emotional punch. I was at once sad, angry, relieved, and surprised.
I loved that this book was based on the Fasting Girls, a group of about fifteen women from all over Western Europe and North America, who were said to have survived without food for long periods of time.
I think a great deal of my frustration with this book came from my feeling that it had much more potential. Because there were some aspects of this story I enjoyed, and because I so enjoyed Room, I would look forward to reading Emma Donoghue’s next book.
I would like to thank Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.