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The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Historical fiction

The Wonder

by Emma Donoghue

Excellent choice

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Quick take

At the heart of the novel is the question of faith... The kind of faith that allows you to take that ultimate leap into the future with no guarantee of where you might land.

Why I love it

Set in the midlands of Ireland in the late 1800s, Emma Donoghue's new novel is worlds away from her bestseller Room but just as perfect in capturing events that escalate, slowly and surely, to a heart-thumping crisis. And once again, Donoghue has created two heroines, a child and an adult, who must overcome terrible barriers—this time set by rules of society and of religion—to find their way home. I mean home in a figurative sense, as a place where safety and peace are offered, and where faith and reliance are rewarded. At the heart of the novel The Wonder is the question of faith—religious faith, faith in community, but most importantly, faith in self. The kind of faith that allows you to take that ultimate leap into the future with no guarantee of where you might land.

Lib Wright is a Florence Nightingale-trained nurse arrived back from the blood-soaked fields of the Crimea when she is hired to oversee a private patient. The commission is vague but well paid and Lib does not hesitate before taking on the new job. I had the feeling there was more to Lib's eagerness to travel away from London than just a paycheck—and I was right. When Lib arrives in the rural backwater, she finds a village in awe of a young girl —the wonder—who turns out to be Lib's patient. Can the girl, who reportedly hasn't required food for months, perform miracles?

The book had me rooting for miracles but not of the religious sort. When Lib understands that the secrets she has carried to Ireland parallel the secrets harbored by just about everybody in the small village, the strength—and the faith—that she has to summon to protect both herself and her patient will change her life, and the lives of all the villagers, forever.

Take the leap, and read this wonder of a book.

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Member ratings (2,755)

  • katie b.

    Decatur, IN

    I was unsure what I was going into and I didn’t know if I would enjoy it but by the end I was crying so much! The ending and there were a few shocking moments that I couldn’t believe but I loved it

  • Caroline F.

    Fairfield, CT

    Lib's goal to foil the O'Donnell's plot to hoodwink the town turns into a fight to save Anna at all costs. Her transformation is subtle and stunning, as she realizes how Anna truly needs to be saved.

  • Eliza K.

    Minneapolis, MN

    Really liked the writing and the perspective of this one.Post-famine Ireland in the 1800's is not a genre that I've dabbled in before.Some may think it's slow moving, but I think the ending is worthit

  • Brittany H.

    Accokeek, MD

    Another wonderful novel by Emma Donoghue! I will read everything this author writes. She is simply a genius with words and knows how to pull the reader into the story! I could not put this book down.

  • Erin H.

    Largo, FL

    I must admit I didn't like Lib's skepticism about everyone's motives all the time. Her questions got on my nerves after a while. That said I still LOVED how the book ended. I've always loved Donoghue!

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