A Journal of the Plague Year is a semi-fictional account of one Londoner's experiences during the year of the great plague.
For various reasons, the narrator chose not to flee the city when most other members of the wealthy classes were rushing into the countryside. Thus, he viewed first-hand the terrible effects of the plague, beginning with the first reports of infestation in 1663, its gradual spread throughout the city, and finally the chaos that ensued when the disease raged in the heart of London.
He comments in detail on the hordes of quack doctors who sold useless medicines and cures, the many people who went mad with fear and desperation running in the streets, and the governmental regulations of the time, even reprinting a list of the mayor's orders in full. Long portions are devoted to the practice of shutting up the infected houses, when citizens literally locked entire families inside of their homes and posted guards at the doors so that plague carriers could not escape. Of course, this also ensured that all members of the trapped families fell ill. Merchant families retreated to their boats on the Thames, hoping that by isolating themselves they might avoid infection, and many others simply left the city on foot, though they often found that they were barred from entering any other town.
The narrator remained in the city until the plague had abated, by which time over 100,000 had died, but he himself managed to remain free of infection. In the end the city was spared from complete destruction, and the people of London slowly returned to their way of life.
The review of this Book prepared by Jacqueline West