by Geraldine Brooks
This is a first novel by former Wall Street Journal reporter Geraldine Brooks. It is a novel “inspired by the true story of the villagers of Eyam, Derbyshire.”
In late summer of 1665, villagers began dying of bubonic plague. To try to stave off an epidemic, the minister of the community, William Mompesson, proposed that the village impose a quarantine on itself. The plague lasted 14 months and killed 260 people (75% of the villagers).
Brooks has woven a fictional plot from factual events and historical people. In the afterword, Brooks states, “While I have used some real names of Eyam villagers, I have done so only when my account does not press far beyond the known detail of their lives. Where I have invented, I have altered or created names to indicate this.”
This book is readable but quilts its stories together. Certain scenes defy suspension of disbelief. The arcane language used doesn’t always flow naturally.