There are any number of books out this autumn that I am excited about, but there are actually three in particular that I've been holding my breath for receiving an advanced reading copy from the publisher. The Wonder was one of those three and THANK YOU, Little, Brown and Company!
Donoghue saw a meteoric rise in visibility with the publication (and subsequent movie) of Room, so even if you're not familiar with her, or read any of her books, or even seen the movie you've probably at least heard of that novel. I haven't actually read Room yet, but Donoghue has always been known to me because I read and very much liked one of her early novels, Slammerkin. I've always wanted to read more by her and when I saw the synopsis for this new novel, I was so damn excited.
Although the synopsis may (and does) sound intriguing, you might be inclined to think that it may well not result in a very propelled plot. A young, widowed English nurse is employed to attend to an eleven year old Irish girl who has been fasting, reportedly without ill effect, for more than four months. Lib, however, is not hired to nurse the girl but rather to keep a watch over her for two weeks for any sign of food being surreptitiously slipped to her. So her presence isn't for caring for child but rather for proving or disproving her holiness, to help determine whether this circus is a miracle or a fraud.
But, dear God, it is in fact entirely engrossing and worrisome. At its heart, this novel is a mystery - who or what is killing the child and why? Or is she truly a miracle? And can Lib even do anything about it all, once she realizes the truth of the situation? If you're slightly sharper than I was while reading, you may pick up on some of the clues earlier than I did but I was quite satisfied with the pace at which things were revealed or I came to understand/connect the dots. I enjoyed the outcome quite a lot.
Donoghue has reaffirmed my faith in her writing. Eloquent, insightful, and unnerving, particularly when involving human behavior and motivations. I count The Wonder among my favourite books this year. An aside: the cover is rather gorgeous and, more importantly, absolutely pertinent to the plot.
The Wonder will be released in the United States by Little, Brown and Company this next Tuesday, September 20th.