The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

9781509818389The Wonder.jpg

Title: The Wonder

Author: Emma Donoghue

Publisher: Picador

Feeling: Steady


I was a little apprehensive to pick up Emma Donoghue’s latest novel. Having previously read two of her other works and absolutely adored both I had high expectations for anything else she wrote. High expectations, can, sometimes be a terrible burden for any book to handle. The Wonder, however, bore my hopes steadfastly throughout my reading experience and assured me that Donoghue’s beautiful prose are here to stay.

The story is set in 1850’s Ireland and follows our protagonist Libby, an Englishwoman unfamiliar with rural Ireland. She was trained as a nurse by the renowned Florence Nightingale and thus comes with a certain reputation. She has been specifically hired to watch over Anna, an eleven year old Irish girl who has supposedly not allowed a morsel of food to pass her lips in the past four months. Naturally a collective of authority figures including priest and doctor wish to discover whether this is due to divine intervention or some trick that is being played; it is Libby’s duty to find out.

I began a little hesitantly, initially irritated by our protagonists and her stubborn, judgemental attitude. As the story continued, however, I grew to understand her and appreciate her as a well rounded character with a past. There was a lot of sympathy passing round in fact, for both Libby and Anna, and I gradually grew more and more attached to both characters.

Everything about this novel felt like a slow but steady process: of building feelings; of developing new queries and of uncovering secrets. It certainly isn’t a fast paced adventure type mystery. It was slow but for me the pacing was absolutely perfect. Before I could ever get frustrated or bored a new piece of information was revealed. Everything gradually slotted into place but I was constantly uncertain of quite how things would wrap-up until they did.

This story is very different from Room, which is probably one of Donoghue’s best known works. The setting is different, the narration is significantly different and the structure is different. Like Room, however, The Wonder was an emotional story that had me deeply invested in the characters’ stories. I would perhaps have liked to know a little more about some of the other characters’ backgrounds and thoughts, i.e. the nun who was enlisted to watch Anna along with Libby, but I was otherwise satisfied with how the book was tied up.

I read this book in under a week and would recommend setting it aside for a time when you can let it utterly consume you until you find out the truth.

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Have you read this book and what to share your thoughts, then please leave a comment. Or if there is anything else I would love to hear from you. Happy reading!

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