Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Hardback:  291 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical
Publisher: Picador 2016
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: The journey was no worse than she expected.
Favourite Quote: “How could the child bear not just the hunger, but the boredom? The rest of humankind used meals to divide the day, Lib realized - as a reward, as entertainment, the chiming of an inner clock.
Review Quote: Fans of Emma Donoghue's first novel Room will not be disappointed with The Wonder . . . a tale of claustrophobic suspense and the intense relationship between a woman and a child . . . Donoghue's masterful way with words and imagery has the reader sharing Lib's scepticism and disdain for Anna and her family's naïve religious fervour. (Red Magazine)
Literary Awards: Scotiabank Giller Prize Nominee (2016)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2016)
My Opinion:  As the successful author of the masterpiece that was Room I wondered if The Wonder was going to meet my expectations. It certainly did that, using as inspiration the true life stories of young people that claimed to survive long periods without food, Emma Donoghue has created with this novel another shocking yet riveting story about a child and a disturbing life experience.  The protagonist Anna is an eleven year old Irish girl whose family are claiming she is a living miracle. The other main character is Lib Wright a nurse a veteran of the Crimean War and trained by Florence Nightingale, who accepts an assignment to watch over Anna to try and discover if what is being claimed is all a sham!

At first the novel felt slow and took time to figure out with the complications of religion, myth and superstition that had a big influence on Anna's family and their reactions to what was happening to their daughter. It was difficult to understand just how far peoples beliefs would influence them, as it seemed they were prepared to let their own child die, as they persisted in believing in miracles.

A difficult subject to write a novel about and whilst reading you cannot but help find yourself thinking about how an earth the author is going to be able to bring the novel to a satisfactory and believable ending. Well without a doubt in my mind, she has succeeded in writing a realistic yet imaginative ending.

The Wonder will appeal to readers of historical fiction, stories set in Ireland and of course fans of Emma Donoghue's excellent writing.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:
An eleven-year-old girl stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse, sent to investigate whether she is a fraud, meets a journalist hungry for a story.

Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, The Wonder—inspired by numerous European and North American cases of “fasting girls” between the sixteenth century and the twentieth—is a psychological thriller about a child’s murder threatening to happen in slow motion before our eyes. Pitting all the seductions of fundamentalism against sense and love, it is a searing examination of what nourishes us, body and soul.

Author's Note - Transcribed from the book

The Wonder is an invented story. However, it was inspired by almost fifty cases of so-called Fasting Girls - hailed for surviving without food for long periods - in the British Isles, Western Europe and Northern America between the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries. These girls varied widely in age and background. Some of them (whether Protestant or Catholic) claimed a religious motive, but many didn't. There were male cases, too,though far fewer. Some of the fasters were put under surveillance for weeks on end; some started eating again, voluntarily or after being coerced, imprisoned, hospitalized, or force-fed; some died; others lived for decades, still claiming not to need food.

Video Trailer for '  The Wonder    ' Courtesy of YouTube

Author Profile

                                                                                                               Emma Donoghue © Mark Raynes Roberts, 2015. 

Emma was born on October 24th 1969 in Dublin Ireland, the youngest of eight children, of Frances and Denis Donoghue(the literary critic) She attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 she earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin, and in 1997 a PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of Cambridge. Since the age of 23, Donoghue has earned her living as a full-time writer. After years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 she settled in London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner, Chris Roulston and their son, Finn and daughter, Una.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

My Review of Room    Emma Donoghue - Official Website     Goodreads Author Profile

Amazon - Emma Donoghue - Author Page

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