The Wonder

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What to expect

An eleven-year-old girl stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse, sent to investigate whether she is a fraud, meets a journalist hungry for a story.

Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder – inspired by numerous European and North American cases of ‘fasting girls’ between the sixteenth century and the twentieth – is a psychological thriller about a child’s murder threatening to happen in slow motion before our eyes. Pitting all the seductions of fundamentalism against sense and love, it is a searing examination of what nourishes us, body and soul.

Critics Review

  • The Irish potato famine has been over for seven years when The Wonder commences but the aftereffects are everywhere . . . In an author’s note, Donoghue says that The Wonder was inspired by almost 50 cases of “so-called Fasting Girls” between the 16th and 20th centuries . . . Donoghue’s prose is as sturdy and serviceable as a good pair of brogans , but never nondescript. There are occasional flashes of lyricism – “a cloud loosely bandaged the waning moon,” for instance, a line of perfect description couched in perfect iambic pentameter – but Donoghue’s main purpose here is story, story, story, and God bless her for it . . . impossible to put down . . . it also reminded me of The Razor’s Edge, only turned inside out. Maugham’s book is about the power of spirituality to heal. Donoghue has written with crackling intensity, about its power to destroy

    New York Times
  • Emma Donoghue’s writing is superb alchemy, changing innocence into horror and horror into tenderness

    Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife
  • Donoghue mines material that on the face of it appears intractably bleak and surfaces with a powerful, compulsively readable work of fiction

    Irish Times
  • Vivid, tender . . . Her contemporary thriller Room made the author an international bestseller, but this gripping tale offers a welcome reminder that her historical fiction is equally fine.

    Kirkus, Starred Review
  • Fans of Emma Donoghue’s first novel Room will not be disappointed with The Wonder . . . a tale of claustrophobic suspense and the intense relationship between a woman and a child . . . Donoghue’s masterful way with words and imagery has the reader sharing Lib’s scepticism and disdain for Anna and her family’s naïve religious fervour.

    Red Magazine
  • Donoghue engages mysteries of faith and doubt without sacrificing the lyricism of her language or the suspense of her storyline. Anna may or may not be a “living marvel,” but The Wonder certainly is

    NPR

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