The Wonder

The Wonder

by Emma Donoghue

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By the New York Times bestselling author of Room: A small Irish village is mystified by what appears to be a miracle but may actually be murder in this "fine, fact-based, old-school page-turner" (Stephen King).

In this masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle -- a girl said to have survived without food for months -- soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels--a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316393881
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 09/20/2016
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 104,745
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an Irish emigrant twice over: she spent eight years in Cambridge doing a PhD in eighteenth-century literature before moving to London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner and their two children. She also migrates between genres, writing literary history, biography, stage and radio plays as well as fairy tales and short stories. She is best known for her novels, which range from the historical (Frog Music, Slammerkin, Life Mask, Landing, The Sealed Letter) to the contemporary (Stir-Fry, Hood, Landing). Her international bestseller Room was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and was a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange Prizes.


London, England and Ontario, Canada

Date of Birth:

October 24, 1969

Place of Birth:

Dublin, Ireland


B.A. in English and French, University College Dublin, 1990; Ph.D. in English, University of Cambridge, 1998

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The Wonder 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This author never disappoints. In her latest novel, we meet well developed characters against a backdrop of 19th century Ireland , with a plot that grabs the reader from page one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though this story presents fascinating information about an 19th century child's dark journey into redemptive suffering and self sacrifice, the writer spends nearly half of the book documenting her nurse's observations about her physical decline. The pace is initially tedious and plodding, and several times I had to put the book aside and find something more engaging to do. I considered not finishing the book, but chose instead to persist in much the same way I sometimes find necessary when reading literature written in the Victorian era. Though it has a satisfactory ending, it is overall a ghastly horror story. Do not be misled by the book's title, it is not a tale for the faint of heart.
Lynx More than 1 year ago
An absolute truth: shows the prejudice of the English against Irish Catholics: that they are all shiftless, thriftless and hopeless. The English nurse Lib, who studied nursing under the great Florence Nightingale, at first thinks that Anna's family is running a scam and that Anna is a willing part of it. People are coming from all over to see the miracle girl and leave a few coins in the box, which Anna's mother insists is for the poor. Lib is assuming: suuure it is. Yet there is so much more going on here. For instance, Anna's brother Patrick is "gone" and Lib assumes he went to America. Lib will find the truth is: anything but her assumption. There is a terrible secret lurking under all of these assumptions. Secrets are the bane of Irish families and I say this being part Irish myself. Secrets take on a life of their own. Keeping a secret becomes the highest priority, more important that the well-being of children. Secrets grow and spread like malignant tumors. Secrets seep poisons into all subsequent generations. The trauma never goes away. The Wonder truly is a wonder. The ending will blow you away.
nhr3bookcrazyNR More than 1 year ago
A different story. It was very slow, but I was curious enough to finish the story. And it did have some surprises in store.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I think I picked this novel up because I wanted to see why it was so popular. I was anticipating an exciting novel and as I read, I really didn’t understand the hype. A child, an eleven- year old girl was entertaining the world with the notion that she was surviving on a mere few drops of water each day. This child was thought to be a Wonder. My thoughts went back to people claiming that they were virgins, never to have sex yet they were pregnant, people who have the image of Christ on their pieces of toast yet they did nothing to create it, all Wonders! I was hoping that the author would throw me a line, that she would reveal something to me before the characters realized the truth behind why Anna was surviving on a few drops of water each day. I wanted to know beforehand and then watch the characters as they discovered the truth because I knew that they were somehow missing something, that they were blind to the facts that had to be staring them right in the face, I thought it slow going as the story unraveled, I wanted instant results just like nurse Lib and Sister Michael who was assigned to Anna. I wanted to know the reason behind this phenomenon. The days passed slowly, I was only reading about them but to experience them had to be a nightmare. As Anna’s health starts to deteriorate, it starts to become a nightmare. How will this all going to end? Who will actually be the winner and what does the winner actually win? For being such a popular novel, I was surprised at the content and the pace of this novel. Did I like it? I was glad that I read it, it was interesting and the story intrigued me and I don’t know if it could have been shorter as you needed that anticipation and mystery to the story but it’s not a favorite of mine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a fan of Emma Donoghue's historical fiction, particularly Slammerkin and Life Mask. The Wonder has Donoghue's trademarks: a well-rounded protagonist, perhaps a bit too sharp-witted for her own good considering the times, excellent research, good storytelling. It's a fine read. The only disappointment was the protagonist's reliance on the (male) reporter for the story's resolution.
bumblebee23 More than 1 year ago
Lib Wright has a new nursing assignment. She has been trained by Florence Nightengale, but now she has a patient that she is not meant to heal. She simply must watch and make sure the child, Anna, is truly "blessed" to no longer need food to survive, or to see if she is sneaking food somehow. Two women are constantly watching Anna. One is Lib and one is Sister Michael. Is this really God that is allowing Anna to survive by faith, or is this a hoax? Emma Donoghue is definitely a gifted writer. She develops the story masterfully and keeps the reader wondering by slowly revealing what we need to know. How you feel about the various characters will evolve as the story unfolds as well. I know my opinions changed constantly of the people in Anna's life. Donoghue kept me wondering and worrying for this eleven-year-old girl the entire time. This is definitely a book worth checking out, and really makes you think of religion versus basic needs. Is religion enough? ** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review.**
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue is very highly recommended historical fiction novel set in rural Ireland, 1859. Lib Wright, a nurse who trained under Florence Nightingale, is hired to travel to Athlone, Ireland. There she is to simply keep watch over eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell. Anna has reportedly not eaten in four months, and yet is supposedly healthy. Lib and another nurse, who happens to be a nun, have been hired by Dr. McBrearty, the family's physician, and a local committee to provide twenty-four hour surveillance of Anna for a period of two weeks. They are to record if Anna is eating or drinking anything without discussing their observations with each other. Clearly they are present to determine if Anna's claim is a hoax or a miracle. It is evident to Lib that Anna, a devout Catholic girl who claims to be living off manna from heaven, is not entirely healthy. It is also clear that the doctor wants to believe Anna is the embodiment of a miracle. Tourists are already coming to the family's cabin to see the Wonder. Lib records Anna's vital statistics and notices that since the nurses arrival, Anna's health is deteriorating. Anna claims she has not eaten, but what could be the logical explanation for her survival for four months and is the presence of the nurses going to mean her death? And why are all the adults in Anna's life willing to let her kill herself by starvation in deference to some idea of piety and reverence? Lib becomes more and more attached to Anna, while at the same time she tries to find a logical answer to the girl's situation. Obviously something is going to have to happen, some break-through is going to have to be made or Anna will die. The inspiration for Donoghue's novel is based on the true cases of nearly 50 "Fasting Girls" from the 16th to the 20th centuries who were from the British Isles, western Europe, and North America. She also includes detailed descriptions of period customs and social behavior of the characters, including the overwhelming prevalence of Catholicism in the daily routine of Anna and the O'Donnell family. Lib must negotiate this unknown culture and decode the words and language they are using. Language and the meaning of words is an essential element in The Wonder. In fact, each chapter opens with a single word, followed by the multiple definitions for the usage of the word. It is obvious that unless the usage of a word is understood by all parties, miscommunications can/will occur. This is an incredibly well-written, compelling novel that will grip you and hold you immersed in the time period and setting until the end. The suspense and the tension deepen slowly, incrementally, and are amplified as the narrative progresses and more information is revealed. There is a claustrophobic atmosphere in the tightly clannish society and the small cottage set in the isolated country side. Anna's behavior is constricted; she is following societal rules above and beyond normal expectations. In sharp contrast, Lib has broken societal rules in her training with Florence Nightingale and her out outspokenness. I loved the ending. Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
A very strange concept which after reading the acknowledgements was, unfortunately, based off a true concept that actually was a trend. A little girl of 11 is starving (fasting) allowing herself only to drink several spoonfuls of water a day. She has been doing this for 4 months. And surprisingly, she is still alive and doing fairly well. A miracle or a hoax? Elizabeth (a trainee of Florence Nightingale) and Sister Michael have been called in by a committee to insure that the child is not being fed on the sly. Elizabeth agrees to the job determined to find out who's been feeding the child. What she finds out is jaw dropping. Her techniques are over the top and a bit cumbersome to read through over and over again, but the story soon moves along and is worth reading through the redundancy. There are numerous prayers over and over again. However, the child is quoting these prayers over and over again. I allowed myself to skip over these (sorry) and that made the reading much more pleasant for me. After finishing reading the book, I was glad that I did. Then after reading the acknowledgements, I was definitely glad that I kept with it. That's my opinion, you will have to form your own opinion. However, I think it's worth the time to read and take the time to do so. Thanks Little, Brown and Company and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My brother told me how good "Wonder" was. I checked this out by mistake. 2/3 of the way through this book, I asked when does it get good. I finished this book because i'm stuborn. I'm wriiting a review because a 3 star average is too high for this book.