Year of Wonders

by

Geraldine Brooks

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Anys is Eyam’s midwife and healer, who works alongside her aunt, Mem Gowdie. Although the Gowdies are the only citizens possessing any scientific knowledge, most people fear their power to cure illnesses, and they live on the margins of society. Anys further alienates the townspeople by flagrantly conducting affairs with many men, including other women’s husbands. However, Anna comes to like and admire Anys, both because of her ability to help others and because of her attitude toward men, which allows her to embrace her sexuality and maintain a sense of autonomy. Ultimately, both Anys and Mem are killed by a hysterical mob who believe they are witches responsible for the plague. This episode shows the power of superstition even when science is most needed.

Anys Gowdie Quotes in Year of Wonders

The Year of Wonders quotes below are all either spoken by Anys Gowdie or refer to Anys Gowdie . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Community and Convention Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Year of Wonders published in 2002.
Part 2: The Thunder of His Voice Quotes

Why would I marry? I’m not made to be any man’s chattel. I have my work, which I love. I have my home…but more than these, I have something that very few women can claim: my freedom. I will not lightly surrender it.

Related Characters: Anys Gowdie (speaker), Anna Frith
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

Dark and light, dark and light…that was how I had been taught to view the world. The Puritans who had ministered to us here had held that all actions and thoughts could be only one of two natures: godly and right, or Satanic and evil. But Anys Gowdie confounded such thinking. There was no doubt that she did good: in many ways, the well-being of our village rested more on her works, and those of her aunt, than on the works of the rectory’s occupant. And yet, her fornication and her blasphemy branded her a sinner in the reckoning of our religion.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Anys Gowdie
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Sign of a Witch Quotes

“I have lain with him. Yes! I have lain with the Devil, and he is mighty and cold as ice to the touch. His seed, too, is cold and abundant as a river running between our thighs. For I have not lain with him alone! No! I tell you now, I have seen your wives lie with him! Yours, Brad Hamilton, and yours, John Gordon, and yours too, Martin Highfield!”

Related Characters: Anys Gowdie (speaker)
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Year of Wonders LitChart as a printable PDF.
Year of Wonders PDF

Anys Gowdie Character Timeline in Year of Wonders

The timeline below shows where the character Anys Gowdie appears in Year of Wonders. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: Ring of Roses
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
...could also cause miscarriages or bad harvests. The villagers still look “aslant” at Mem’s neice, Anys, who also works as a healer; Anna notes that her stepmother, Aphra, relies on Anys... (full context)
Part 2: The Thunder of His Voice
Community and Convention Theme Icon
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...George’s death, Anna begins scrubbing the house and prepares to burn all his possessions. However, Anys Gowdie arrives to claim her gown. She shocks Anna by saying offhandedly that herbal medicine... (full context)
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
...large dinner that evening. On her way, she stops at the Gowdies’ cottage to ask Anys about her relationship with George. Anys airily confesses that she slept with George but that... (full context)
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
Faith, Suffering, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Leaving the cottage, Anna reflects that Anys defies the black-and-white concept of sin the Puritans taught her as a child. While Anys... (full context)
Part 2: Sign of a Witch
Community and Convention Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...a talisman containing a dried toad, but neither woman has any confidence in its efficacy. Anys brings a herbal salve that quiets him and eases his pain. However, Anys realizes that... (full context)
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...likely to drown. No one is brave enough to jump in and rescue her until Anys arrives with a rope and hauls her aunt out of the pond. Anys performs a... (full context)
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
The mob puts a noose around Anys’ neck, but before they hang her she yells that she is in fact “the Devil’s... (full context)
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
Warned by Mary, Mompellion arrives and excoriates the villagers for killing Anys. When they argue that she confessed to witchcraft, he says that she was just trying... (full context)
Part 2: Venom in the Blood
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Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...and Elinor try to nurse Mem, but she dies of her beating five days after Anys. Anna notes that with them dies the medical knowledge the town relied on to cure... (full context)
Part 2: The Poppies of Lethe
Community and Convention Theme Icon
...afflicted is Anna’s friend Lib, to whom she hasn’t spoken since Lib was involved in Anys’ murder. Anna hurries to her house, hoping to reconcile, but Lib dies before she arrives.... (full context)
Faith, Suffering, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...has bought the charm from a mysterious entity she believes to be the ghost of Anys Gowdie. Anna is unconvinced, telling Kate that it’s probably a hoax perpetrated by some greedy... (full context)
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
Faith, Suffering, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...by the fire and, notwithstanding her disdain of superstition, instantly believes it’s the ghost of Anys Gowdie, until the figure lights a match and reveals herself as Elinor. Anna wonders how... (full context)
Part 2: The Press of Their Ghosts
Faith, Suffering, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...she found in Margaret Livesedge’s house, which Margaret said she obtained from the ghost of Anys Gowdie. Elinor confers with Mompellion, who has seen other villagers clinging to the fake charms.... (full context)
Part 2: A Great Burning
Community and Convention Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...sell a charm to his sister, Chastity; he announces that she is the “ghost of Anys Gowdie” who has been preying on the villagers’ desperation. Enraged, people start to throw mud;... (full context)
Part 3: Apple-Picking Time
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...crowded with memories, like her early friendship with Elinor and the deaths of Mem and Anys, that she doesn’t want to relive. (full context)