Year of Wonders
by Geraldine Brooks
This piece of historical fiction tells the story of the English village Eyam that quarantined itself during the plague outbreak from 1865-1866 to prevent the spread of infection to other areas of England. Our heroine, Anna Firth, is a widow who loses everything during that plague year: her children, her closest friend, and ultimately, her faith.
The book centers around the religion vs. science debate, but the idea of how everyone changes in the face of fear and death resonates with the reader above all. Some villagers become heathens, some heroes; some gain strength in themselves, others lose all hope; some find something to believe in, while others lose belief in everything they once knew.
Brooks throws a few loops in the end of the book that I definitely fell for. Although I didn't love the ending (epilogue), she does a good job of tying some of the loose ends together without ending it with a fake "happily ever after." (After all... by the end of the book, two-thirds of the people from Eyam have been killed by the bubonic plague. And that's for real.)
If you're a fan of historical fiction, pick up this book!