This book is based on the real town of Eeym in England. In 1665, the Black Plague broke out in this town. To protect the surrounding countryside from infection, the town agreed to isolate itself for the duration of the plague. During the year or so that they were cut off from the outside, about 1/3 of the population of Eeym died of the plague. This book is the fictional account - based on facts - of what happened in the town during that year. It's told from the point of view of Anna, an 18 year old widow with two children, who works as a servant for the minister and his wife.
This is also one of my books for The Historical Fiction Challenge. Here's the comment I posted on that group's message board:
I got this in the mail yesterday and I can hardly put it down! It's heartbreaking but an easy read at the same time. Although I must say, I had a REALLY hard time with the descriptions of the children's deaths. My son is only 6 yrs old, and these children reminded me so much of him ... then to read about their deaths in JUST enough detail that I could imagine it - WHEW! Almost too much for me, especially right before bed. :(This really was an excellent book, despite the depressing topic. What really worked for me was the way Brooks gave just enough detail that you could imagine the situation without giving so much detail that you were completely depressed or disgusted.
It was a very quick and easy read, although I would recommend getting through the initial outbreak of the plague and a few more chapters before heading to bed. Like I said, trying to go to bed after reading about the children dying was enough give me bad dreams!
All is all, I would highly recommend this book. I'm thinking of doing a book giveaway sometime in the next few months, and I'm planning to keep my copy for that. If do a contest, are any of you interested in winning this book?
If you have a review of this book, post the link in the comments and I'll add it here. Here are some other reviews I've come across.
Devourer of Books
Books on the Brain
The Inside Cover