Set in 1600s England, Year of Wonders depicts a community as it faces the brutality of the Black Plague. Instead of packing things up and skipping town as soon as the disease appears, the villagers of Eyam stay put in order to stop its spread and apparently prove to God that they love him. This has profound consequences. Villagers eye each other with suspicion. They indulge in bizarre, pagan magic. They basically go insane. By the end of the novel, this tiny town is nearly unrecognizable—and not in a fun Fixer Upper way.
Questions About Community
What is Eyam like before the plague hits? Is it a strong community?
How do class issues affect the village of Eyam?
What causes the community to break down? Explain your answer.
Will the community recover from the plague? If so, how?
Chew on This
The community of Eyam breaks down because people are desperate, scared, and angry—a bad combination.
There is little chance that Eyam will reform as a community as the trauma it experiences is too significant.