The wonder A novel

Emma Donoghue, 1969-

Book - 2016

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FICTION/Donoghue Emma
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1st Floor FICTION/Donoghue Emma Due Jul 16, 2022
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Subjects
Genres
Historical fiction
Published
New York : Little, Brown and Company 2016.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
291 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN
9780316393874
0316393878
Main Author
Emma Donoghue, 1969- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In her outstanding new psychologically intense and suspenseful novel, Donoghue (Frog Music, 2014) plunges readers deeply into her protagonist's confounding situation and its ethical consequences. In 1859, Lib Wright, an English nurse trained by Florence Nightingale herself, is tasked with an unsettling mission: watching over Anna O'Donnell, an 11-year-old girl in a small Irish village who, so it's claimed, hasn't ingested any nourishment in four months. While Anna doesn't appear to be starving, neither is she blooming with health. Her devoutly religious mother acts proud of her seemingly miraculous restraint. Believing this "extraordinary wonder" to be a lucrative scam, Lib determines to locate Anna's secret food source and expose her as a fake. She has two weeks to do so. However, Anna, an unforgettable character, is a delightful, curious child who awakens Lib's protective nature, increasingly so as Anna's well-being deteriorates. Donoghue excels at evoking the social and religious atmosphere that proves difficult for the secular-minded Lib to penetrate. Fervent Catholic piety intermingles with folk superstitions, and the confined setting of the O'Donnells' meager cabin feels tangibly immediate. The mystery about Anna forces readers to weigh every word for clues, while the creeping tension urges them to read faster, with a growing sense of urgency. Exploring the nature of faith and trust with heartrending intensity, Donoghue's superb novel will leave few unaffected.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With the resounding success of the film version of Donoghue's novel Room, her readership is vast and hungry, and this will be promoted accordingly. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Donoghue follows up 2014's much-starred Frog Music with another historical that sounds as wrenching as her Man Booker finalist, Room. In a remote 1850s Irish village, young Anna O'Donnell has decided to demonstrate her faith by fasting, and folks from all over arrive to stand in the shining light of this presumed miracle (will she survive?). English nurse Lib has another assignment—to determine whether Anna is a fraud—but instead finds herself wondering whether Anna is succumbing to slowly unfolding murder. [Page 69]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In August 1859, nurse Lib Wright accepts an unusual assignment: to observe a devout 11-year-old Catholic girl in Athlone, Ireland, who has not eaten in four months and yet remains mostly healthy. Having trained under Florence Nightingale, Lib is ideally equipped to verify whether Anna O'Donnell's fast is a hoax. She initially suspects the child's piety is a scam for attention, but Anna's gentle nature softens the nurse's heart. As Anna's health deteriorates, Lib investigates and discovers that the girl's heart is burdened by a deep shame reinforced by her loved ones' narcissistic pieties, while the medical implications of Anna's fast blind her physician to her alarming decline. Lib resolves to save Anna's life. To do so, however, she may have to commit a murder. The author's depiction of Anna is especially marvelous and her narrative pacing masterly. VERDICT Donoghue's most recent offering is as startlingly rewarding as her celebrated novel Room. Heart-hammering suspense builds as Lib monitors Anna's quickening pulse, making this book's bracing conclusion one of the most satisfying in recent fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 3/14/16.]—John G. Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Donoghue demonstrates her versatility by dabbling in a wide range of literary styles in this latest novel. Set mostly in a small, spare room inside a shabby cabin in rural 1850s Ireland, the closely imagined, intricately drawn story possesses many of the same alluring qualities as her bestseller, Room. Lib, a widow and former nurse, is summoned from London to the peat-smelling village of Athlone for a fortnight to assess whether 11-year-old "living marvel" Anna O'Donnell has truly been able to survive without food for four months. It could be some sort of hoax perpetrated by the girl's family or the village parish, and Lib confidently assumes that it'll be an open-and-shut case. But as each day passes and Anna's health suddenly begins to deteriorate, not only does Lib grow more attached to the earnest girl, but she also becomes convinced that Anna's reasons for fasting—a recently deceased brother, devotion to God, her parents' influence—run far deeper than Lib imagined. Inspired by the true cases of nearly 50 "Fasting Girls"—who lived throughout the British Isles, western Europe, and North America between the 16th and 20th centuries and became renowned for living without food for long periods of time—Donoghue's engrossing novel is loaded with descriptions of period customs and 19th-century Catholic devotional objects and prayers. Even with its tidy ending, the novel asks daring questions about just how far some might go to prove their faith. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Hired to care for a small Irish village girl said to have miraculously survived on nothing but "manna from heaven" for months, a journalist and nurse veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign quickly finds herself fighting to save the child's life.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Hired to care for a small Irish village girl said to have miraculously survived on nothing but "manna from heaven" for months, a journalist and nurse veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign quickly finds herself fighting to save the child's life. By the best-selling author of Room. 150,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In this masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse is brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle -- a girl said to have survived without food for month -- and 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. Acclaim for The Wonder: "Deliciously gothic.... Dark and vivid, with complicated characters, this is a novel that lodges itself deep" (USA Today, 3/4 stars) "Heartbreaking and transcendent"(New York Times) "A fable as lean and discomfiting as Anna's dwindling body.... Donoghue keeps us riveted" (Chicago Tribune) "Donoghue poses powerful questions about faith and belief" (Newsday)