Year of Wonders

Sarah Washburn – Social Science

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Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks – Due Monday, May 20

Part of your assignment is to answer the following questions. Your answers must be typed, double-spaced with one-inch margins and 12 point font.  This assignment is due, in class, on Monday, May 20.  Your paper should be 3-5 pages in length.  I will not accept the written portion of this assignment late except for extreme circumstances.  The other portion of your assignment is the discussion we will have in class, May 20, covering the questions you have answered, and other questions presented by the instructor.

Your answers should not be just simple yes or no answers, but should contain details and quotes from the novel to support your responses. When you quote the novel, please provide the page number.

Year of Wonders is based on the actual town of Eyam which self-quarantined during an outbreak of Bubonic plague.  This occurred just after the restoration of the crown, and you will see that mentioned throughout the novel.


  1. The story of the village of Eyam was told through the eyes of Anna Firth. Anna began the novel as a mother, servant and sheep herder. How did her role within the village change over time?
  2. Mem and Anys Gowdie faced misunderstanding and violence because they did not fit the typical role for women at this time. How were the Gowdies different from other women in the village, and what ultimately happened to them?
  3. Elinor and Anna worked together in many different aspects to help the village survive intact. What were some of the ways that they worked together?
  4. Anna convinced her father, Josiah Bont, to become the new gravedigger. How did he exploit this role?  How did Aphra, Anna’s step-mother, also exploit the plague to her own advantage?
  5. Why did Michael call for the village to self-quarantine? Do you believe his motives were purely selfless? Would you have remained behind if plague broke out or fled like the Bradfords?
  6. Michael, Elinor and Anna’s lives were dramatically changed by the end of the novel. Did you have a different view of Michael and Anna at the end of the Year of Wonders?
  7. What did you think of the ending of the novel, including the Epilogue? Did it seem realistic? Do you believe that Anna suffered from PTSD?
  8. In what ways can a novel, such as Year of Wonders, aid a student in understanding history?

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