JUNE'S BIBLIOMANIA IS FOR
THE WONDER BY EMMA DONOGHUE
Publsihed by Picador Sept 2016
What is it about?
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, 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.
Read my review here: Bibliomaniac's Review of The Wonder
What props could you use to start a conversation about The Wonder?
- a Bible
- a Religious Icon
- a medical dictionary
- a diary
- a book about Florence Nightingale
- pictures and photos of Florence Nightingale and early nursing
- a map of Ireland
What are your reactions towards Lib's character? Is she likeable? Did your feelings change during the novel?
What do you think is the most important lesson Lib has learned through her nursing of Anna?
What impression do you get about Florence Nightingale from this novel?
List the motives behind each character in this novel.
There are many who could be held responsible for Anna's life threatening situation. Who do you think is most guilty?
What did you make of the ending?
The novel is about using stories to help children understand the world around them or discuss things which are upsetting or complicated. Were you ever told a story to explain something? What happened when you discovered the truth?
How did you react to Byrne as a character?
What does the novel say about the importance of ritual, religion and parenting?
This is an historical novel, rooted very firmly in a particular time and place. Does it have any messages for today's society? Are there any issues in this novel that will still resonate with readers now?
Which event, character or moment in the book is the real 'Wonder'?
There is a lot in the novel about repetition and interpretation of words and phrases. There is often a deliberate ambiguity or euphemism with some of the words used. Find some examples.
Why are riddles used in the novel?
What is the significance of the reference to the fairy tale Rumplestilskin?
Quotes to start a conversation with about The Wonder:
"Saving lives often came down to getting a latrine pipe unplugged." (page 21)
"Was there a single aspect of life that this creature didn't see through the dark lens of superstition?" (page 103)
"Could children ever be considered quite of sound mind?" (page 118)
"Lib was revolted by this mathematical mumbo jumbo. Was it Anna who was suffering from religious mania of her whole nation?" (page 149)
"Famileies all had their peculiar ways that couldn't be discerned by outsiders" (page 220)
"Lib saw the point of superstition now. If there was a ritual she could perform that offered a chance of saving Anna, wouldn't she try it?" (page 260)
"For the first time Lib understood the wolfishness of mothers." (page 281)
"Neither the Creator nor Nature should be blamed for what human hands have wrought." (page 288)
"On the whole, we'd rather our days be unwritten." (Lib page 291)
Where to hold your book group for The Wonder:
- a bedroom
- a country lane / a walk in the country side (somewhere bleak and isolated)
What snacks and drinks could you serve?
- Soup - of a broth like nature
- Oatcakes / Bread
If you liked this book and want to read similar novels try:
For more book recommendations, reviews and Book Club questions and suggestions, follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or on the Bibliomaniac's Book Club pages on my website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk