The Wonder

The Wonder

A Novel

eBook - 2016
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"Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who is said to be living without food, 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. As Anna's life ebbs away, Lib finds herself responsible not just for the care of a child but for that child's very survival. Haunting and magnetic, The Wonder is a searing examination of doubt, faith, and what nourishes us, body and soul. Written with all the propulsive tension that made Donoghue's Room a huge bestseller, it works beautifully on many levels -- an intimate tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a spellbinding story of love pitted against evil." -- from back cover.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316395632
0316395633
9780316393881
0316393886
Branch Call Number: EBOOK OVERDRIVE
Characteristics: 1 online resource (291 pages)

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Pippa_R Jul 13, 2018

If you're a fan of Emma Donoghue's bestselling novel Room, you will love The Wonder, a thrilling page-turner that keeps you guessing until the final pages. Lib is a nurse trained by Florence Nightingale. Her expertise is requested by the family of Annie, an eleven-year-old girl who claims she has been surviving for the past four months without food. Lib’s task is to watch Annie night-and-day to either prove or debunk the supposed miracle. Disturbing, fast-paced, and claustrophobic, this novel will have you flip-flopping, taking sides with both Annie and Lib as the horror and wonder of Annie’s self-imposed starvation unfolds.

PimaLib_ChristineR Jun 23, 2018

I'll say what I can about this book, but I think the best review is Stephen King's in The New York Times of September 27, 2016, and I would recommend it highly.

Lib Wright is an English nurse, recently returned from the Crimean War, where she was trained by Florence Nightingale. In flashbacks we see the toll the nursing took on Lib, but also her pride in her scientific, detached method of nursing. Wright is hired by a town committee in a small Irish town to watch over Anna O'Donnell, a young girl who has eaten nothing since her 11th birthday--almost four months without any food. In an afterword, Donoghue explains that O'Donnell is based on at least 50 cases over the last 400 years of "Fasting Girls," but King, in his review has done some additional digging and says that O'Donnell's is a "case that most closely resembles...that of Sarah Jacob, a Welsh child of 12 who was said to have gone without food for more than two years. After her story was reported, a team of nurses was hired to keep watch and discover if the girl really was fasting."

In The Wonder, Wright discovers an Ireland that has been decimated by the Great Famine, and a country that is practically ruled by Catholicism. It becomes clear to Wright that the town committee, for the most part, truly believes that Wright, and her partner nurse, an Irish nun whom she hardly trusts for accurate reporting, will find that Anna is a saint, living without food. Wright, on the other hand, begins as a cynic, assuming the family is doing it for the money or the notoriety, and below that is a general English disdain for the Irish, seeing them as backwards and uncivilized (which Wright tended to bang on about so constantly that it cost at least half a star). When she learns that the family is truly donating the money and gifts that are left for Anna, and that they seem to be pious, yet honest people, she begins to question herself, and what role her observation may be playing in Anna's fasting.

I can't go much further into the plot without spoilers, but it is a story worth reading, for the insight into Nightingale's methods, the horrors of the Crimean War, the extent of the hold the Catholic church had over Ireland at the time, and the aftermath of the Great Famine. And all of that is aside from the fascinating story of Wright's watch over a child--a job she thought of as simple--that becomes one of the most complex things she's ever faced. Another half a star lost for what felt to me like a somewhat hokey ending.

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finn75
Jun 04, 2018

I did enjoy this work of historical fiction that is based on real occurrences. I did get a bit sick of the dumb Irish/silly Catholic thing after awhile. I may be a bit sensitive but the common sense Englishwoman coming in to save the day started to grate.

JCLEmilyD May 15, 2018

You won't believe how this one ends! However, the beginning is quite slow in my opinion.

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yorkiebj
Mar 19, 2018

A very different read for me. The first three quarters of the book while enticing progressed slowly, only to have the ending finish to rapidly. I was kept reading, but jolted by the abrupt conclusion of the book.

It was an interesting historical fiction period I was unacquainted with.

o
orange_lobster_23
Mar 16, 2018

The characters were clearly one dimensional and not nuanced. The Lib's self-righteous fervor in rescuing her young starving patient lacked any nuance or compassion toward her faith-
blinded family. The conclusion of this story stretched credulity. Readers who liked "Room"
will be disappointed.

ecole2016 Feb 28, 2018

Set in Ireland in the late 1800s, I found this book very slow to start. It picked up some after the first 100 pages. Even though it wasn't my favorite book, I think it'll lead to an interesting book club discussion.

l
lorraineacasas
Jan 26, 2018

I thought about changing my rating and thoughts about this book after attending my local library’s book discussion group, but I think my rating still holds true for myself and I would still recommend this book. It might not be for everyone, but this historic/literary fiction definitely took me by surprise! It was slow to start but the ending was worth it (I’m also a sucker for a good ending - no matter how unrealistic *shrug*). I thought the roles were well thought through and I also thought it interesting how starvation, nurses, religion, family, guilt, etc. were portrayed. I definitely think it’s a great book club read - it makes for a lot of discussion. It also had an appropriate and yet still relevant setting, great imagery, and a strong female lead role - however, I did find that a particular male role did kind of play hero (I don’t want to spoil it) and that’s kind of disappointing. But many other people in my group found him not to be that way and very much gave credit to the character Lib. Again, a great book club read and definitely something different from my usual reads! I’d recommend it!

ArapahoeAnnaL Dec 14, 2017

Themes of rural guilelessness vs. city sophistication and traditional faith vs. modern rationalism are effortlessly portrayed in this beautiful story of a skeptical nurse who is employed to determine whether a "fasting girl" is a miracle or a hoax. The truth of the situation is revealed and the nurse comes to love the girl. The reader is caught up in the suspense that builds at the end of the novel.

This novel has so much to offer - romantic love, maternal love, mystery, a glimpse of another place and time...!

i
IV27HUjg
Aug 07, 2017

While three million poor, rural Irish perished by starvation, the GB didn't lift much of a finger to send aid. They actually exported Irish food for their own consumption. My great grandparents immigrated from Cork 1855 to Canada & then US. Just my opinion.

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Tjad2L
Apr 28, 2017

Tjad2L thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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EAEccher
Mar 09, 2018

I suppose it's fitting that I read this during Lent, as it felt like doing interminable penance. The writing is clunky and overbearing, the characters are stereotypical, and the ending is eye-rollingly ludicrous.

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