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Old 12-21-2012, 12:22 PM   #4
fantasyfan
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I've finished the novel and I think that my comments in this paragraph are general enough so as not to need spoiler protection. I'll use them for those following--espcially the contentious final paragraph. I really enjoyed about 90% of the book. For many of the experiences described in Eyam, Geraldine Brooks drew heavily on anecdotal oral history to describe events in the village. She also did considerable research on the effects of the Plague and its physical and psychological effects on people from 17th century sources. the result is a remarkably vivid picture of the town and its population. The rector Michael Mompellion is partially based on the actual rector of the time, William Mompesson. But the central interest of the novel lies with the narrator who is generally effectively delineated by Brooks.

Spoiler:
This focalising character and narrative voice is Anna Frith and in nine-tenths of the novel she is a compelling character. She had a very interesting blend of a practical nature, the ability to learn and use effectively practical skills--such as midwifery and herbal remedies--with an academic bent {she learned quickly how to read, learned Latin and even Arabic--this last perhaps a step too far for believability} along with a deeply introspective spiritual nature and a love of Nature.

Where I personally think this novel goes badly--disastrously--wrong is in the contrived final 10%. It seems that when Brooks had to take her character out of the plague-ridden Eyam she didn't know what to do with her and made up a denouement which--far from being a satisfactory resolution--really (IMHO} moves into melodrama and then gets her shipped off abroad. I feel that Anna's character in that final section loses a great deal of its meditative and reflective beauty.

Did anyone else feel this way?

Last edited by fantasyfan; 12-22-2012 at 03:23 AM.
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