Bubonic Plague -- fiction
Hannah is very happy to be moving to London. It’s 1665, and for a young yet just-grown-up girl, it is surely the center of all that is fascinating and bold. She’s to join her sister, Sarah, At the Sign of the Sugar Plum, where she will help craft delicious confections for gentry and commoners alike. Hannah knows she will be working hard to establish the business, and that suits the red-haired young woman perfectly. Indeed, everything suits her down to the ground, including the handsome apothecary’s apprentice.
But there are rumors that the plague is has struck London again this summer. It’s just a few people at first, and the King’s court is still in town, so nobody minds it too much. Then the disease spreads wildly, until thousands each week die in agony. Hannah and Sarah are both frightened, but leaving London and their business would mean giving up their dreams.
In A Vision of Light, by Judith Merkle Riley, Margaret of Ashbury is a rather ordinary albeit quite pretty woman—ordinary that is, except for the Voice she sometimes hears and the visions she sometimes sees. One day, the Voice tells Margaret that she should write a book about the extraordinary things that have happened to her. She argues with the Voice… she is a woman so who would listen to her, and what is more, like nearly everybody, she does not know how to write. And further, she has not done any great deeds worth writing about.
The Voice answered:
“Put in it what you have seen. There is nothing wrong with being a woman, and doing ordinary things. Sometimes small deeds can show big ideas. As for writing, do as others do: get someone to write it for you.”
“Voice,” I said, “how do I know you are from God, and not the Devil, tempting me into something foolish?”
“Margaret,” answered the Voice, “isn’t it a good idea? God never gives bad ones.”
It is fascinating to trace the domino effect caused by something so seemingly small and insignificant as a bolt of cloth. In Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, by Geraldine Brooks, this bolt spreads misery in the form of the bubonic plague from London to a small, remote English village in 1666. Anna Frith, a young widow who has already seen her share of misfortune, is spared the fatal boils while all around her, family, friends, and neighbors succumb to the terrible disease.