Set in Athlone, Ireland, in the 1850s, Emma Donoghue’s suspenseful ninth novel features superb pacing, vivid historical details, small-town secrets, and questions of faith framed as life-and-death matters. The protagonist is Lib, a London nurse trained by Florence Nightingale, who comes to the village fresh from the Crimean War. She is charged with discovering the truth about Anna, an eleven-year-old who has fasted for four months, with no apparent ill effects. Can the girl really be sustained by the love of God alone? As tourists and pilgrims flock to see The Wonder (Little, Brown, $27), Lib and a local nun keep watch around the clock; Lib, at least, is sure that someone is secretly passing food to Anna. Her partner sees things differently, and as the tension between them rises, Anna’s health does indeed start to suffer. But little by little Anna confides in Lib, and as Lib comes to understand what’s really going on, she both revises her notions of the Irish and fears she must commit murder in order to save Anna. The final outcome of the case—which is based on actual events—is as startling startling as it is unforgettable.
The Wonder - Emma Donoghue
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Published: Little, Brown and Company - September 20th, 2016
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Published: Back Bay Books - September 5th, 2017