I enjoyed Brooks' more recent work, March, quite a bit. I liked this one even more. Brooks takes us through the tale of a small English village in 1666 that, during one of the waves of plague that ravaged Europe throughout the middle centuries, quarantined itself in an effort to halt the spread of the disease.
The story is told through the eyes of Anna Frith, a young widow who, as the plague progresses, is taken under the wing of the town's pastor and his wife after her children die.
As superstitions flare, the death-toll mounts and fields and flock lie fallow for lack of people to tend them, Anna grows to admire more and more the pastor for his untiring faith and his wife for her breaking through the class barrier between the two women to befriend Anna.
She and the pastor's wife tend to the living, dying and dead as desperation mounts and hope fails.
This book wasn't really inspirational so much as interesting, tragic and awful. It was a novel of growth and loss, of revelation about how little we know about people, even when we're intimately connected with them on a daily basis.