Texts in the City: Year of Wonders

Texts in the City: Year of Wonders

Writer, reviewer and editor Matthia Dempsey joins Jenny Niven to discuss themes of class, faith, transformation and free choice in Geraldine Brooks' 17th century plague drama, Year of Wonders.

We see the transformation of characters as the story moves them through challenges to their religion and forces them to grapple with questions of causality and destiny. Niven asks — are the church and the laboratory diametrically opposed in the book?

Dempsey argues that the role of money in furnishing a range of choices for Anna is noteworthy, and notes the lack of admirable male characters — many of whom seem morally inconsistent. She also points us to examples where dialogue or behaviour of other characters makes them seem less believable; at the same time, she points out the ways in which the narrative style feels credible and reliable.

Niven and Dempsey examine the role of God, science, community and superstition in a society gripped by turmoil and searching for answers.


Portrait of Matthia Dempsey

Matthia Dempsey

Matthia Dempsey is a writer, reviewer and editor-in-chief of Bookseller + Publisher magazine.

Portrait of Jenny Niven

Jenny Niven

Jenny Niven was the Wheeler Centre’s Associate Director. She is currently Portfolio Manager for Literature, Publishing and Languages at Creative Scotland.

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