The Wonder

The Wonder

A Novel

Book - 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: 9780316393874
0316393878
Branch Call Number: Fiction Don
Characteristics: 291 pages ; 25 cm

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LadyDi52
Jan 15, 2020

I enjoyed some of this author's other books...but this one is so boring it's almost as if there isn't a plot...maybe it gets better but I've sat down with it 2 or 3 times and I just can't get into it. There's also this English derision of the Irish, is it supposed to be funny? a satire?

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StrangelyExuberant
Dec 19, 2019

A story where religion and science meet to verse each other as the truth is hunted for. The stakes? The life of an eleven year old girl. Lib was called in to conduct a "watch" with Sister Michael to confirm whether or not an eleven year old girl is actually existing without any food as a sort of miracle. When the horrible truth is hinted upon it lands on Lib alone to find the truth's proof. This story was another great example of historical fiction. I really enjoyed it. It is definitely a page turner.

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annegirl37
Sep 22, 2019

In my opinion, Emma Donoghue writes some of the most well-researched, evocative historical fiction I've ever read. This was not my favorite book of hers, but it was one of the few books this year as a new mom that kept me engaged enough to finish it!

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OP_2
Aug 26, 2019

Tea & Talk Book Club / July 2019

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INVS
Jul 10, 2019

7-10-19 Returning for others, too many books showed up now.

VaughanPLDavidB Mar 25, 2019

In mid 19th century Ireland, Nightingale-trained nurse Lib Wright is hired as part of a two week watch on a girl who has been purportedly going without food for over four months. She is understandably skeptical of the claim, but over the course of the two weeks she discovers the appalling truth of the situation. The author effectively unwinds the story, until a somewhat improbable climax, which is the book's only real weakness.

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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Tjad2LT
Apr 28, 2017

Tjad2LT 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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