Read: January 2017
An eleven-year-old girl stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse, sent to investigate whether she is a fraud, meets a journalist hungry for a story.
Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, The Wonder—inspired by numerous European and North American cases of “fasting girls” between the sixteenth century and the twentieth—is a psychological thriller about a child’s murder threatening to happen in slow motion before our eyes. Pitting all the seductions of fundamentalism against sense and love, it is a searing examination of what nourishes us, body and soul.
This was an interesting book – and a great pick for my first read of the year. The only other book I’ve read by Emma Donoghue was Room and while I wouldn’t say this one was quite as intense, it definitely had a great mystery surrounding it. You would think that a book about a girl who stops eating couldn’t be a book at all and I really wondered how long the whole idea could be carried, but as the story went on I was completely fascinated and absorbed in it that I couldn’t put it down. I had so many theories as to why this girl, Anna, decides to stop eating and none of them were correct, but I love that this book had me thinking so much as I was reading it.
Even though I was fascinated by the whole story, it did move quite slowly and some might be perturbed by the insistency of the nurse, Lib, that Anna must be getting food from somewhere. After a while even I wanted to say, okay, I get it but do you need to say it all the time? But putting myself in her shoes, I probably would do the same thing. There were so many twists and turns throughout the latter half of the story that even I didn’t see them coming; Emma Donoghue really knows how to write something that will have you shrieking out “what?!?” while you’re reading.
This was a great mystery and so interesting to read. It kept me thinking about it long after I finished and, as usual, made me so happy to have an author like Emma Donoghue in Canada!