Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

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.

I'd only read one book of Emma Donoghue's prior to picking this title up, and that was Room - a book vastly different in genre and premise. I thoroughly enjoyed Room, and whilst The Wonder got of to a slow start for me, the same can be said of it too.

We meet nurse, Lib, as she arrives in Ireland and is given more details regarding the job she has been employed in - Lib is to effectively be a watcher of eleven year old, Anna, a young girl who proclaims to have not eaten for four months. The reason for the two week watch in which Lib, alongside a nun, is to undertake, is to see whether or not Anna really and truly is fasting.

The characters of both Lib and Anna evolve through the story, and we see a friendship of sorts form over the duration of the watch. Lib has a bond with the girl, and only wants what is best for her, even when those around young Anna are refusing to do more for her.

Alongside forming a bond with Anna, Lib also makes acquaintance of a journalist covering Anna's fast, and a connection is soon formed there also.

I found The Wonder to be a little bit of a slow starter, with the beginning chapters feeling quite repetitive. I think it's somewhat understandable though, given the nature of Lib's duties being to watch this young girl, however once I hit the half way mark in the book it all picked up and I couldn't put the book down!

Going in to the book you kind of form assumptions of sorts, as with any book, and I had thoughts regarding Anna's fast - namely that they were perhaps of a religious nature, and I was very much surprised by the twisted conclusion of the book.

Emma Donoghue set the scenes within the book wonderfully, and her prose are atmospheric and heartfelt - in particular I really felt Lib's frustrations. The author seems to have the ability to write a vast variety of fiction, whilst remaining to have her way with words; by which I mean her prose being beautifully written with phrases you can read over and over.

The Wonder is a historical fiction book, with an emphasis on religion, as well as containing themes that some may find disturbing. Having said that, the story is quite a powerful one, and the kind of book that makes you think about a thing or two.



  1. You should read Slammerkin by her. That was my first read by her, so Room was very different. lol I have this one to read, but haven't got a chance!

    1. Slammerkin is actually the next title by Emma Donoghue that I have my eye on... You recommending it means it'll for sure be my next read of hers! I hope you enjoy The Wonder when you do get a chance to pick it up :-)


Blog Layout Designed by pipdig