"At five and twenty, Elinor Mompellion had the fragile beauty of a child. She was all pale and pearly, her hair a fine, fair nimbus around skin so sheer that you could see the veins pulsing at her temples. Even her eyes were pale, a white-washed blue like a winter sky. When I'd first met her, she reminded me of the blow-ball of a dandelion, so insubstantial that a breath might carry her away. But that was before I knew her. The frail body was paired with a sinewy mind, capable of violent enthusiasms and possessed of a driving energy to make and do. Sometimes, it seemed as if the wrong soul had been placed inside that slight body, for she pushed herself to her limits and beyond, and was often ill as a result. There was something in her that could not, or would not, see the distinctions that the world wished to make between weak and strong, between men and women, laborer and lord."
~Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks
Although the devastation of the plague, a deadly disease transmitted by infected fleas and rodents, was widespread and horrific, it's presence forced many to live more intensely and honestly, including the heroine of this story, Anna Frith, which may be the reason why I'm reading Year of Wonders so avidly.