The Wonder is set in the Irish Midlands in 1850. Mrs Wright, an English nurse trained by Florence Nightingale in Crimea, is summoned to work for a family for two weeks. After a long journey, she arrives at the home in the small village where there are few home comforts.
The following day she meets her patient, an eleven-year-old girl named Anna who has refused to eat for four months, yet appears to be well. A committee instructs Mrs Wright and Sister Michael, a nun, to watch Anna day and night to see if she secretly eats. People are fascinated, saying Anna will become a Saint. Mrs Wright is highly suspicious that this is a hoax. Meanwhile a journalist also wants to investigate.
Anna is slowly dying yet no-one chooses to acknowledge it. The story is creepy, chilling and compelling. Catholic fundamentalism supersedes a mother’s love. In essence, Anna becomes a spectacle to study what nourishes the body and the soul.
Emma Donoghue was inspired to write this story upon hearing about cases of girls who were hailed for surviving without food for long periods of time. Some were put under surveillance for weeks. Some ate again. Some were force-fed or coerced and some died. Some lived claiming they had no need for food.
This is a thought-provoking book. How does this compare to eating and psychological disorders today? Also, how much does your faith affect your thinking? The author of Room has written another nail-biting novel.