I had a couple of doctor's appointments this week, so I thought it would appropriate to read about the Plague. I love that this novel is based on a real story.
During 1666, when the Plague is ravaging London, most of the English countryside is safe from the torment. However the town of Eyam was unlucky and the Plague starts killing townsfolks. In a shocking case of supreme unselfishness, the town decides to shut themselves off in a voluntary quarantine, to save the surrounding villages. We see the events through the eyes of Anna Firth, a young widow and mother of two boys, who is the servant to the new minister and his wife, Elinor. Anna and Elinor become close friends in their effort to battle the scourge, with Anna learning how to read, learning about different herbs and plants, and being impressed with her new friend's selflessness and Christian giving.
As the sickness takes its toll, leaving no house unharmed in its wake, people are tested. Some come through stronger, some are undone by their losses, some blame God, some blame their fellow townsfolk. In the end, everyone's true colors are shown, and Anna has to make several difficult decisions.
The story flowed like water. Although the author uses a lot of period-accurate obscure words, the vast majority are easily figured from context, and the language adds to the flavor and atmosphere of the novel. Anna is a wonderful heroine, she's simple and strong without high aspirations, but she works hard, is a quick study, and she's a survivor. A couple of times she seemed a little anachronistic (did they really know that the Plague could be spread through infected bedding and clothing?) but not in any way that hurt the story for me. It was a great story to get lost in.
I got this book at the Friends of the Library book sale.