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If you’re searching for an enticing and thought-provoking audiobook, look no further than Emma Donoghue’s “The Wonder.” In this audiobook review, we’ll explore why this mysterious tale will keep you captivated until the last word.

Key Takeaways

  • Emma Donoghue’s “The Wonder” is a captivating and thought-provoking audiobook.
  • The story’s central mystery and themes of belief and mystery drive the narrative.
  • The audiobook version enhances the storytelling experience with exceptional narration and production quality.
  • The characters in “The Wonder” are complex and intriguing, with intricate relationships that impact the overall narrative.
  • The deep themes and symbolic elements embedded in the story leave a lasting impression on the listener.

About the Author

Emma Donoghue is an acclaimed Irish-Canadian author, born in Dublin in 1969. With a PhD in English, Donoghue has made an unforgettable impact on literature with her unique writing style and captivating narratives. Her works span across multiple genres, including historical fiction, contemporary fiction, and non-fiction, with a strong focus on storytelling and character development.

Donoghue is perhaps best known for her 2010 novel, “Room,” which was adapted into a critically acclaimed film. Her other notable works include “Slammerkin,” “The Sealed Letter,” and “Frog Music.” Donoghue has received numerous awards and nominations, including the Irish Novel of the Year, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and Man Booker Prize.

“[Donoghue’s work] has the power to make us believe in the impossible”
– The New York Times

Synopsis of “The Wonder”

Set in rural Ireland in the mid-1800s, “The Wonder” follows the story of Anna O’Donnell, a young girl who claims to have survived without food for months. An English nurse, Lib Wright, is hired to observe Anna for two weeks and determine if the claims are true. As Lib begins her watch, she becomes increasingly convinced that Anna’s survival is a hoax and sets out to uncover the truth, even as the townsfolk begin to believe that Anna’s fasting is a miraculous event. Along the way, Lib faces opposition from those who would prefer the mystery to remain unsolved, and she must confront her own doubts about faith and belief. Can she uncover the truth behind Anna’s fast before it’s too late?

Plot Summary

When we first meet Anna, she is already a local celebrity, having gained international attention for her supposed ability to survive without food. At just eleven years old, Anna is the talk of the town, and people come from far and wide to witness her supposed miracle. However, some are skeptical, including Lib Wright, a hardened nurse who makes her living exposing frauds and charlatans. When she is hired by a committee of concerned citizens to watch Anna and ensure that she is not being force-fed in secret, Lib is at first dismissive of the whole affair. However, as the days go by, and Anna’s fast continues, Lib begins to grow increasingly suspicious. She and the local doctor, Dr. McBrearty, set out to investigate Anna’s claims and uncover the truth about her supposed miracle.

As Lib delves deeper into the mystery, she begins to uncover some disturbing truths about Anna’s family and the town itself. She also begins to question her own beliefs about faith and miracles, and must confront the trauma of her own past. Throughout it all, the clock is ticking, and Anna’s condition is growing more and more fragile. Will Lib be able to solve the mystery in time, before it’s too late?

“‘The Wonder’ is a gripping and thought-provoking tale that will keep you guessing until the very end.”

Themes of “The Wonder”

The central theme of “The Wonder” is belief, both in the sense of religious faith and of belief in oneself and one’s own instincts. The novel explores what happens when people’s beliefs are challenged, and how they react when faced with the possibility that everything they believe in is false. It also touches on themes of identity, trauma, and the power dynamics between those in positions of authority and those who are powerless.

Symbolism in “The Wonder”

One of the most prominent symbols in the novel is the fasting girl herself, Anna. She represents both the possibility of real miracles and the risk of deception and fraud. The town itself, with its dark secrets and hidden motivations, is also a powerful symbol of the dangers of blindly following tradition and cultural norms.

Narration and Production of the Audiobook

If you’re a fan of audio books, then “The Wonder” audiobook is a must-listen. The audiobook production quality is exceptional, ensuring that the listeners can fully immerse themselves into the story. The narration by Kate Lock is outstanding, bringing the characters to life with her incredible voice acting skills.

One standout element in “The Wonder” audiobook is the sound design, the haunting sounds, and subtle background noise that make it easy to envision the setting and adds ambiance to the story. It emphasizes the tension and unease of the story, making it a captivating listen. Overall, the audiobook version of “The Wonder” successfully enhances the storytelling experience and is a must-listen for those who enjoy immersive audio journeys.

Characters and Relationships

One of the most captivating aspects of “The Wonder” is its cast of intriguing characters. Each has a unique backstory and personality that contributes to the overall narrative.

The protagonist, Lib Wright, is a complex and determined nurse who is tasked with determining the veracity of Anna O’Donnell’s claim to have survived without food for months. Anna, the young girl at the center of the mystery, is a deeply religious and obedient child who challenges Lib’s beliefs and perceptions. Other significant characters include Anna’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. O’Donnell, whose motivations and actions impact the storyline in unexpected ways.

Relationships play a significant role in “The Wonder,” with each character’s dynamic influencing the overall progression of the plot. The complex relationship between Lib and Anna is one of the novel’s most captivating aspects, with the two coming from vastly different worlds and worldviews. Alongside the central relationship, familial, romantic, and professional relationships interweave, adding an additional layer of depth and intrigue to the story.

The Wonder is a masterclass in character development and relationship building, with each individual and dynamic contributing to the overall narrative in meaningful ways.

characters and relationships

Themes and Symbolism in “The Wonder”

Emma Donoghue’s “The Wonder” extends beyond a traditional mystery novel and explores deeper themes and symbolic elements. The story primarily deals with the themes of faith, skepticism, and the relationship between faith and reason. Central to the narrative is the contrast between the two opposing views on the possibility of miracles, which fuels the story’s conflict and keeps readers guessing until the end.

The book vividly presents the contrasting ideologies and the thought-provoking implications that arise from the various characters’ beliefs. The author uses symbolism to emphasize the influence of faith and religion on the characters’ lives.

“The Wonder” presents an unveiling of how human beings cope with doubt, human connection, and their place in the world.

Overall, Donoghue weaves intricate layers of meaning within the narrative, which make readers ponder long after finishing the book.

Critical Reception and Awards

Emma Donoghue’s “The Wonder” has received critical acclaim for its engrossing storytelling and rich thematic content. The novel has been praised for its intricate character development, immersive atmosphere, and exploration of complex philosophical ideas.

According to The New York Times, “Donoghue’s prose is minimal and restrained, allowing the story’s most powerful images to emerge gradually from the text like a developing photograph.” Similarly, Publishers Weekly praised the novel’s “suspenseful pacing” and “lyrical writing style.”

In addition to a warm reception from critics, “The Wonder” has also received several prestigious awards. These include:

Award Year
Book of the Year Award 2016
Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year 2016
Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction 2016

These accolades further cement “The Wonder” as a must-read novel and a standout achievement in Emma Donoghue’s impressive body of work.

Comparisons to Other Works by Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue is a celebrated novelist, known for weaving complex stories that explore the depths of human emotion and behavior. When comparing “The Wonder” to other notable works in her portfolio, it is clear that Donoghue has established a unique voice and style that is both thought-provoking and captivating.

One of Donoghue’s most well-known works is “Room,” which tells the powerful story of a young boy and his mother who are trapped in a tiny room for years on end. Like “The Wonder,” “Room” examines themes of confinement, sacrifice, and the resilience of the human spirit. However, where “Room” may be seen as a more intimate story, “The Wonder” takes a broader view, exploring the impact of societal beliefs on the individual.

Another of Emma Donoghue’s notable works is “Frog Music,” which is based on real-life events and tells the story of a woman trying to solve the mystery of her friend’s murder. While “Frog Music” is a more suspenseful and thrilling tale, it shares with “The Wonder” a focus on uncovering the truth and exploring the darker aspects of human nature.

Overall, Emma Donoghue’s works are marked by their depth, complexity, and profound truths about the human experience. “The Wonder” stands out as a unique and engrossing addition to her body of work, showcasing Donoghue’s continued growth and mastery of storytelling.


Overall, “The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue is a captivating and thought-provoking novel that translates well into audiobook format. The expert narration and production quality enhance the storytelling experience, making it a great choice for audiobook lovers.

The characters are complex and intriguing, and their relationships drive the narrative forward in unexpected ways. The themes of belief and mystery are explored in depth, leaving readers with much to ponder long after the audiobook has ended.

While some may find the pacing slow at times, the central mystery is enough to keep readers engaged until the very end.

Emma Donoghue’s skillful writing style is on full display in “The Wonder,” making it a must-read for fans of historical fiction and mystery novels.

In conclusion, “The Wonder” is a well-crafted novel that is sure to leave a lasting impression on readers. If you’re looking for a captivating audiobook to add to your collection, this one is definitely worth considering.


What is “The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue about?

“The Wonder” is a mysterious and thought-provoking novel by Emma Donoghue. It explores a central mystery and themes of belief through its captivating plot.

Who is Emma Donoghue?

Emma Donoghue is a talented author known for her captivating storytelling. She has written numerous notable works and has established herself as a celebrated writer in the literary world.

Can you provide a synopsis of “The Wonder”?

“The Wonder” unveils a compelling plot centered around a mysterious event. It explores the themes of belief and mystery, drawing readers into its captivating narrative with surprising twists and turns.

How does the audiobook version of “The Wonder” enhance the storytelling experience?

The audiobook version of “The Wonder” elevates the storytelling experience with its expert narration and high production quality. It brings the story to life, immersing listeners in the intricate details of the narrative.

Who are the main characters in “The Wonder” and how do their relationships shape the story?

“The Wonder” introduces a range of intriguing characters, each with their own motivations and complexities. Their relationships play a vital role in the development of the narrative, shaping the course of events and adding depth to the story.

What are the main themes explored in “The Wonder” and what symbolic elements are present?

“The Wonder” delves into profound themes such as belief, mystery, and the human condition. It incorporates symbolic elements that add layers of meaning to the narrative, encouraging readers to contemplate broader social and philosophical implications.

How has “The Wonder” been received by critics and has it received any awards?

“The Wonder” has garnered positive reviews from critics who have praised its compelling story and skillful writing. While specific awards may vary, the novel has received recognition and accolades in the literary world for its exceptional qualities.

Are there any notable comparisons between “The Wonder” and other works by Emma Donoghue?

“The Wonder” can be analyzed alongside other works by Emma Donoghue to uncover common themes, writing styles, and storytelling techniques. Comparisons highlight the author’s unique abilities and provide further insights into her body of work.

What are your final thoughts and impressions of “The Wonder” audiobook?

In conclusion, “The Wonder” audiobook is a captivating and immersive experience. It showcases Emma Donoghue’s storytelling prowess and leaves a lasting impression on listeners. Its strengths, weaknesses, and overall impact make it a worthwhile addition to any audiobook collection.

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