Monday, October 24, 2011

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

          State of Wonder by Ann Patchett was a very, very slow moving book.  It wasn’t until the last 50 pages or so of the 353 pages that I was really drawn into the story.  It is probably twice as long as it really needs to be.

          The story revolves around research being done in the Amazon backed by a pharmaceutical company.  While I am not a huge fan of medical thrillers, nor of tales of those who trek beyond civilization, (My idea of roughing it is staying someplace without room service.) the concepts of a potential fertility drug that would allow post-menopausal women to become pregnant as well as an inoculation against malaria are interesting.  It is ultimately the characters and their various deceptions that are the backbone of the story.  

          The part I liked best was the way the end of the story curved around to end where it began.  A child taken for dead is returned to its parents, a parent taken for dead is returned to his children. That was well done. The tale feels finished despite leaving lots of loose ends.

          I’d only rate this one a 6.  While I agree it is a pretty good book – it made the bestseller list, for heaven’s sake – the topic and setting were not to my taste and the pace was too slow keep my interest up. 



  1. "State of Wonder" opens with "the news of Anders Eckman's death". Eckman, a medical researcher who worked for the Vogel pharmaceutical company in Minnesota, had been sent to Brazil to try and gather information about the progress of the research being done by another Vogel scientist, Dr. Annick Swenson. Swenson had been in the Amazon for many years, investigating a biological substance that appears to enable women to remain fertile for their entire lives. A lone wolf, Swenson refuses to provide much information to the company, not only about her work but even about her address. Indeed, she hires a quirky young couple from Australia, the Bovenders, to run interference between her and the outside world. When word of Eckman's death from a fever reaches Minnesota, it falls to his office mate, Dr. Marina Singh, to travel to Brazil and attempt to find out more about the circumstances surrounding Anders' death, and to bring word back to Anders' wife Karen, who is left with three young children. Marina travels first to Manaus, a large, noisy, dirty city that serves as a gateway to the Amazon, and then down the Rio Negro to Swenson's field station.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note. Hope to hear from you again soon. Sue


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