It’s a wonder I’m not sacked by my book clubs – there have been so many books which we’re read which I’ve struggled with/didn’t like/thought were rubbish/thought were boring etc etc, and I have to confess on some occasions I haven’t finished reading them. So I was really pleased – and relieved, to find myself reading a book which I thought was absolutely gripping, well written, interesting, informative, and after some heart-breakingly distressing moments, had a satisfactory ending. In fact it was so good I read it too quickly to find out what happened and I must read it again!
The book is ‘The Wonder’ by Emma Donoghue; I won’t give away what happens at the end but I am just going to mention a few details from it so if you’re intending to read it, SPOILER ALERT!
The book is set in Ireland in the 1850’s, not many years after an Gorta Mór , the potato famine which lost the country over a quarter of its’ people, over a million died, over a million emigrated. In a remote community in the middle of Ireland, a young girl has stopped eating and drinking, taking only a few sips of water… and miraculously, or so it seems, she doesn’t die. Although local people believe it’s a miracle and that she is sustained by manna – which nobody quite knows what it is. However, a local panel including the doctor and the priest want this controversial claim of living without sustenance examined. The call in two nurses to oversee the child, to watch her day and night for two weeks to make sure she is not taking real food from anywhere. The two nurses are an English woman who served under Florence Nightingale, Miss N. as she calls her, and the other is a nun.
That is the start of the story… but what happens, how different relationships develop, and how the truth is discovered – and what happens next, well, you will have to read the book yourself!