Study Guide

Year of Wonders Chapter 1

By Geraldine Brooks

Chapter 1

Part 1: Leaf-fall, 1666

Apple-Picking Time

  • Anna, our narrator, typically loves the fall season, but there's something different this time around. She doesn't tell us what, though.
  • Anna takes an apple to an unnamed man whose "hand is on the Bible" (1.1.3). Seems like he used to be a preacher.
  • Dude's looking pretty ragged. This man, Mr. Mompellion, doesn't pay much attention to Anna until she mentions his wife. He then clams up and tells her to leave.
  • After working at the rectory, Anna heads home. She talks about how she avoids the other villagers due to some trauma they all experienced together. Again, she's mum on details.
  • Anna was once married to a local miner named Sam Frith. They had several kids together and enjoyed a happy marriage, but Sam was tragically killed in a mining accident.
  • Anna talks about how the village used to be filled with Puritans, but...it isn't anymore. These are some tantalizing yet confusing details.
  • The next day, Anna heads back to the rectory. She notices how the streets are torn up and overgrown. Is this a zombie situation?
  • Before she heads inside, Anna is interrupted by Elizabeth Bradford. Elizabeth seems like a big meanie. It also seems like she hasn't been back in town for a while.
  • Elizabeth demands to speak with Mr. Mompellion, saying that her family has returned out of obligation to the local community. Anna goes into his office to ask him what he thinks.
  • Mr. Mompellion tells Anna to inform Elizabeth that she should "go to Hell" (1.1.45). That's not how a pastor is supposed to talk, good sir.
  • Anna conveys this message in a much gentler fashion, but Elizabeth freaks out just the same. She tries to push her way into Mompellion's room.
  • Mompellion stops Elizabeth in her tracks. He lets loose a righteous rant about how her family abandoned the village in its time of need. Elizabeth, crumbling, says that her mom is sick.
  • Mompellion leaves, and Elizabeth collapses in Anna's arms. She implies that her mom is not actually sick, but pregnant. And she's an older lady. And it's not from her husband.
  • Oh—this is getting juicy.