From the very beginning of The Wonder, author Emma Donoghue sets up clear foci for narrative drama – the English versus the Irish; science and logic versus folklore and superstition; a single woman versus a group of powerful men; fundamentalism and faith versus common sense and love – and uses the phenomenon of the Victorian-era ‘fasting girls’ to explore these themes.
Eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell hasn’t eaten for four months, yet remains alive and well. Newspaper reports proclaiming Anna’s existence a miracle; visits and donations from people paying homage; and the curiosity of doctors and priests, prompts the employment of a British nurse, Lib Wright, to investigate whether Anna is a fraud. Lib, an atheist and a highly experienced nurse, is dismissive of the religious devotion and folklore that drives the small town, and believes she will quickly expose the secret feeding of Anna. Continue reading
It’s time for #6Degrees and it’s a cinch to play – please join in! Continue reading
I’ve read a number of memorable books where the narrator is a very young child (Room by Emma Donoghue immediately springs to mind) but none quite as lovely as Claire King’s The Night Rainbow , narrated by five-year-old Pea.
Read the blurb for The Night Rainbow and you’d be correct in thinking it sounds like the world’s most depressing story – Pea and her younger sister Margot are grieving their father, who died in a tractor accident on the family farm. Their mother is pregnant, also grieving, and deeply depressed. Pea and Margot are left to their own devices for much of the time – they play in the nearby stream and meadow, prepare their own meals, and think of ways to make Maman happy again. And then they meet their neighbour, Claude, and their small world changes.
“There are more than a thousand things in the world and one of them must make Maman happy. But how do we know which one? Exactly! says Margot. This is our new challenge. We are going to use our cleverness to make Maman happy again. We will start by trying yellow flowers.”
It’s not a dramatic story, it’s a delicate one. It’s simply but exceptionally well told. King manages to capture the extremes of being a five-year-old – of shifting from complete self-centeredness to wondering about the whole world in the blink of an eye; from being brave to scared in an instant; from being sad to happy in the space of a minute. Continue reading
This week, the Broke and the Bookish set the ‘task’ of listing ‘Top Ten 2014 Debuts I’m Excited For’. At the moment, I’m here:
As a result, I’m not spending time at the computer putting together photo montages of book covers. And my list isn’t debuts, it’s just books I’m looking forward to. And it’s not even ten books, it’s twelve. Do with it what you will. Continue reading
At the risk of being black-listed by The Broke and the Bookish crowd, I’m admitting that I have no real interest in books about vampires. Or witches. Or anything para-normal. Yes, I did read the Twilight series (because I like a book with hype) and I did enjoy it but it hasn’t gone further than that. So I’m likely to fail miserably at this week’s top ten topic – Top Ten Books to Get in the Halloween Spirit.
So whilst there’s nothing terribly ghoulish or fitting for Halloween on my list, here’s the ten books that scared the pants off me (for all sorts of reasons) – Continue reading