Just back from holiday where I managed to finally read a book that was lent to me some time ago.
The book is a novel based on fact.
- 1665 a year of plague in England.
- A small English village of lead miners, shepherds, cobblers and weavers called Eyam.
- A parish priest who convinced the village to quarantine themselves to prevent the spread to the neighbouring communities.
- Fear of the unknown and of change.
- The beginning of the Age of Enlightenment.
- The end of Cromwell’s Puritanism Age.
- New discoveries is science and medicine.
These facts are told through the fictional narration of Anna a young woman of the village. Through her we hear of the villagers struggles and sorrow, of their little moments of joy, of their fear and what it drives them to. We read of faith tested to the limit, of the struggles between the old and new, of the resilience of human nature and in a surprising twist at the end a reminder that acceptance has no boundaries.
The story is beautifully and tenderly written, even the horrors within it, it informs and engages and is a book which I will most probably end up buying my own copy of. One of the biggest surprises of the book has to be the way it handles so many subjects without them seeming out-of-place. On one page I was learning about hand lead mining, the next plunged me into theological reflection (there were lots of those moments), a chapter further on was herbs or sheep, while others enriched my historical knowledge and still others left me giving thanks for the wonders of the modern world.
If you were wondering it would make a great book for a Book Group.