Study Guide

Year of Wonders Women and Femininity

By Geraldine Brooks

Women and Femininity

The subtitle for Year of Wonders is Being a Feminist Before Feminism Was Cool. Okay, we made that up. But it might as well be true. The novel follows Anna Frith, a young mother and widow, as she goes on a quest of self-discovery. Though kind of basic herself, Anna finds inspiration in two friends: Anys Gowdie, who's wild and free-spirited, and Elinor Mompellion, who's classy yet unconventional. As Anna rebuilds herself in her friends' images, she explores the way that society exerts control over women and ultimately creates a new sense of self in the process.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. How do Anys and Elinor differ as female role models? Is one better than the other?
  2. How does Anna's medical career relate to her growing feminism?
  3. How are accusations of witchery used to subjugate women?
  4. What is the turning point in Anna's relationship with gender? Is there an explicit turning point?

Chew on This

Both Anys and Elinor are important to Anna: Anys shows her that she can be a rebel, while Elinor shows her that she can do so while remaining classy.

In the novel, villagers accuse women of being witches if they show any sort of proficiency or skill.

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