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State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

State of Wonder

by Ann Patchett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,1743551,416 (3.88)3 / 503
A researcher at a pharmaceutical company, Marina Singh journeys into the heart of the Amazonian delta to check on a field team that has been silent for two years--a dangerous assignment that forces Marina to confront the ghosts of her past.
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English (349)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (353)
Showing 1-5 of 349 (next | show all)
I'm late to the party, but I finally read an Ann Patchett book! Beautiful writing. Well-developed characters and fabulous settings. Some nice surprises. I was disappointed with one event at the end of the book, though, and quite disturbed by another event at the end. I'm going to read The Dutch House next to compare. ( )
  DonnaMarieMerritt | May 22, 2020 |
Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here, writes of "the death of the slow unfolding," novels that take their time to open and disclose their stories. Today many novels often open briskly, if not with explosions. Witness Ann Patchett's Bel Canto--by the end of chapter one, a room full of dignitaries has been taken hostage by South American freedom fighters.

State of Wonder hearkens back to a "slow unfolding," although slow does not equal dull. It is a rich, satisfying story, with Patchett's usual excellent writing. Her characters are conflicted, multi-layered, and hypocritical--in other words, they are often fun to read about. We are slowly drawn into the protagonist Marina's quest to the Amazon to discover the truth about the death of her colleague Anders. Just as Patchett built up the extraordinary setting of Bel Canto, here she creates the city of Manaus and then the Amazon as one part realism, one part Garcia Marquez, and one part Conrad.

A quest narrative and a character study, a drama with flashes of comedy, and a story with equal parts tragedy and redemption, all with Patchett's fluid, graceful prose and an even-keeled sensibility, State of Wonder is an excellent novel in which to be lost for a few days. ( )
  ChristopherSwann | May 15, 2020 |
bought this in airport Powell's on way to visit Michael when he fell ill - Las Vegas 2013
  Overgaard | May 5, 2020 |
I was absorbed from the get-go. And, wow, the variety of scenes - from an opera to an anaconda snake. But after all that time spent in the rain forest, the ending seemed to wrap up so very fast. I cried at the end ... for the character Easter, not for any of the other characters, few of whom are admirable or likable. ( )
  ReadMeAnother | May 4, 2020 |

State of Wonder follows Marina, a pharmaceutical researcher who is forced to leave behind her quiet life in Minnesota when word reaches her that a colleague and close friend has died while working in the Amazon. In the Brazilian rainforest, Marina quickly discovers that the lives of the scientists around her are far more complicated than anything she had experienced back home. Exploring issues of love, grief, morality, and scientific ethics, the story told in State of Wonder is complex and provocative. Pratchett weaves together numerous subplots and characters to create a truly marvelous story.

The setting is as important at the characters. Brazil: oppressive humidity, innumerable bugs, deadly snakes, mysterious natives, exotic diseases, unique flora, relentless sun, opaque rivers, and claustrophobic jungles. The ultimate success of the Americans depends on their ability to adapt to and navigate in such wildly unfamiliar territory.

As with many of Ann Patchett's previous books, I had a visceral reaction to State of Wonder. The beauty is in her writing style and the mood it creates. I was drawn in and read more slowly than usual because I wanted to soak up every little nuance. I worried about Marina and her health. I rooted for her to find information to take home to comfort Dr. Eckman's widow. I rejoiced in her ability to achieve success despite her setbacks. I felt Marina's deep loneliness fed by the losses of her father, her role model, her career, and her relationships. And ultimately, I found peace and satisfaction knowing that while Marina was sent to the Amazon to find Eckman and Swenson, the most important person she found was herself.

The scientists in State of Wonder are challenged to think about their stance on everything from the ethics of profit-driven drug development to the wisdom of interfering with the day-to-day lives of indigenous peoples to the comparative value of life and freedom. Patchett highlights these potentially polarizing dilemmas with care and grace, not proselytizing. For me, State of Wonder has it all: it made me think, it made me feel, and it was engrossing.

I also enjoyed all symbolism in the novel; jungles, and bugs and lost luggage, fathers and missing father figures, and native dresses and too-tight evening shoes. I suspect this will be a popular book club selection yielding some great discussions on all kinds of topics such as medical ethics, the pharmaceutical industry and the fertility industry and the blessings of menopause. (Oh thank heavens for menopause!)

I found "State of Wonder" to be a real page-turner with plenty of surprises right up to the end to shake my assumptions (I like that). In the end Patchett left a little "maybe" about Marina's future that each reader can extrapolate as he or she wishes. Patchett does it again; I sincerely hope that when this book came out, it was a best seller. I was seriously spellbound from the first chapter, writing my mother and telling her this novel was a MUST READ, and there were still enough surprises hidden within the book to ensure that I never knew what was coming next. This is a terrific novel by an amazingly talented author.

I am now a huge fan of Ann Patchett. 5 stars. ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 349 (next | show all)
In her latest novel, Ann Patchett, author of the beloved Bel Canto, takes her readers down the Amazon and deep into the rain forest in a book that is part adventure story, part morality tale...This book may be on a lot of book club lists already — but with good reason...
added by Jcambridge | editNPR, Lynn Neary (Jan 1, 2012)
State of Wonder is heavy with literary parallels (to Henry James, to Greek myth), but in this respect the strongest links are to Heart of Darkness, a novel that Patchett substantially rewrites, with Conrad's male text repopulated with female characters (Swenson is this book's Kurtz). It lacks the developed emotional core of Patchett's earlier books, but it is her most mature work to date, a novel that tries to be more alive to the nerve ends of philosophical life than to the simpler machinery of character motivation.
“State of Wonder” is an engaging, consummately told tale. Patchett’s deadpan narrative style showcases a dry humor that enables her to wed, with fine effect, the world of “Avatar” or the “Odyssey” with that of corporate board meetings, R&D reports and peer review...

“State of Wonder” is an immensely touching novel, although as with much of Patchett’s work, its emotional impact is somewhat muted by her indefatigable niceness.
Nail-biting action scenes include a young boy’s near-mortal crushing by a 15-foot anaconda, whose head Marina lops off with a machete; they’re balanced by contemplative moments that give this gripping novel spiritual and metaphysical depth, right down to the final startling plot twist.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (Feb 1, 2011)

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ann Patchettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Daddio, Jennifer AnnDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, HopeReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duval, NateCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferguson, ArchieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sporrong, DorotheeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my friend Jo VanDevender
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The news of Anders' Eckman's death came by way of Aerogram, a piece of bright blue airmail paper that served as both the stationery and, when folded over and sealed along the edges, the envelope.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Years ago, Marina Singh traded the hard decisions and intensity of medical practice for the quieter world of research at a pharmaceutical company, a choice that has haunted her life. Enveloping herself in safety, limiting emotional risk, she shares a quiet intimacy with her widowed older boss. Mr. Fox, and a warm friendship with her colleague Anders Eckman. But Marina's security is shaken when she learns that Anders, sent to the Amazon to check on a field team, is dead - and Mr. Fox wants her to go into the jungle to discover what happened. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the unknown, down into the Amazonian delta, deep into the dense, insect-infested jungle, to find answers from the company's research team. Led by the formidable Dr. Annick Swenson, the scientists are looking into the development of a new drug that could have a profound impact on Western society. But the team has been silent for two years, and Dr. Swenson does not like interlopers inserting themselves into her work, as Marina well knows. The eminent and fiercely uncompromising doctor was once her mentor, the woman she admired, emulated, and feared. To fulfill her mission, Marina must confront the ghosts of her past, as well as unfulfilled dreams and ecxpectations-on a journey that will force her to make painful moral choices and take her to the depths of her own heart of darkness. (ARC)
Haiku summary
endless river
love lost
love found

Everything's easy
after killing


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