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State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
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State of Wonder (edition 2011)

by Ann Patchett

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4,2303251,176 (3.89)3 / 435
Member:omphalos02
Title:State of Wonder
Authors:Ann Patchett
Info:Harper (2011), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

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English (321)  Dutch (2)  All (323)
Showing 1-5 of 321 (next | show all)
A woman's journey out of her comfort zone in the search of truth and love. The storyline is very contained. It gives little tidbits about other things, such as relationship with her father, pharmacological research, anthropology, and side characters, but none of them pan out to anything and instead just focus on the main protagonist uncomfortability with the setting. The story itself is well-written and interesting, but it could have easily been a short story then. There was very little technical information in a book that deals with science, most side characters are unmemorable, and there is a unique culture that never gets explored. The ending got very exciting but got resolved way to easily. It is still a good book that I enjoyed, but it's not great. ( )
  renbedell | Jan 11, 2017 |
As inventive as improbable a story, as intriguing as annoying. An adventure novel that in its second chapter seems to become a psychological one but then forgets about the story of Marina and her father altogether. Well weitten apart from occasional leaps of thought that leave you wondering what happened. The end leaves too many threads lying loosely around. So 3.5 stars. ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

'State of Wonder' is the story of a woman, Marina Singh, on a journey to find a coworker, who was reported dead from malaria and his already body buried in the jungle according to his Christian beliefs. Marina, (age 42), is a doctor working as a pharmacologist in a lab for a pharmaceutical company named Vogel, in icy Minnesota. Her coworker, Anders had been sent months ago into the Brazilian jungle to check on a research project concerning the development of a fertility drug. His wife, Karen, is not satisfied that her husband is dead and already buried. She wants to know more in order to provide closure for her children. Karen and Marina's boss, Mr. Fox, (also Marina's secret lover), ask that she travel to Brazil to check both on the death of Karen's husband and on the research grant of Dr. Swenson, (age 72,) Marina, formerly a student of Swenson's, agrees but reluctantly, as she and Dr. Swenson have not spoken since a surgical accident. After the accident that occurred while Marina was in residency under Swenson, Marina abandoned her major in obstrectics.

Once in the jungle, Marina finds that things are never as they appear. Swenson is working not only on a fertility drug that can reactivate a woman's menstruation and eggs after menopause, allowing them to have children late in life, but also on a drug made from the same compounds that can inoculate against malaria. She is using funding from Vogel to finance her drug, unbeknown to Vogel executives. Further, Marina struggles with the ethical and moral questions that arise from doing research on native cultures. Swenson has also made herself a test subject and is now pregnant in her advanced age. The other doctors at the facility have agreed to work on the project and Marina must choose between her employer/lover Mr. fox, and a drug that can save millions through an inoculation that prevents malaria.

During her longer than planned stay, Marina meets a native young boy, (Easter), who is completely deaf, yet extremely resourceful. She has come to love Easter like a mother. Easter had been stolen from his own tribe several years ago, a tribe who are or had once been cannibals, by Dr. Swenson, and her presumed deceased coworker Anders. Marina begins to understand that morality and ethical consideration are often difficult and that no decision is ever without consequence. Her time with the Lakashi women teaches her that sometimes medical science should not try to improve on nature, and that simply because something can be done, doesn't mean it should be. Swenson is at about 27 weeks into her pregnancy when she tells Marina the baby has died. Marina does a crude surgical C section to remove Swenson's own dead child all the time knowing that nature holds a delicate balance and to damage that balance can be dangerous. By the end of the novel, Marina has learned that sometimes, to act in the best interest of nature, one should merely allow nature to function without intervention. 'State of Wonder' shows readers the delicate balance between ecosystems, ethics, morality, and self preservation and asks readers to evaluate their own beliefs.

I would love a sequel and I feel like I have been to the jungle by reading this book. ( )
  jothebookgirl | Jan 3, 2017 |
I have to give it two stars because I like the prose. The beginning pulled me in. I lost interest in the middle party because the main character became increasingly annoying and partly because the story began to drag in a way where I sometimes forgot the purpose of the main character's trip. The ending seemed rushed. At one point one of the characters says of the main character, "I keep hoping you are more than you show yourself to be..." and then goes on to talk about how she's continually disappointed. I felt the same while reading the book. ( )
  a.leenlu | Dec 28, 2016 |
Summary: Scientists discover a drug in the Amazon, which appears to extend female fertility into old age. The research is lead by the mysterious and eccentric Dr. Swenson. When an employee of the drug company dies on a trip to the jungle research center in Brazil, the pharmacologist Marina is sent down there to to find out what happened - and to find out how Dr. Swensons research is going.

It was a slow start, but once Dr. Swenson appears and we are in the jungle the book is hard to put down (or rather stop listening too). All in all an exiting and brainy adventure with some surprising twists and turns that kept me fascinated - actually I was reluctant to leave Marina and wanted to know more about her fate - Both Marina and Dr. Swenson was complexed, nuanced and well-drawned characters.

Good narration by Hope Davis. ( )
1 vote ctpress | Dec 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 321 (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 (7 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
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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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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

(Sogamonk)
Everything's easy
after killing
anaconda

(ReneeGKC)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0062049801, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2011: In State of Wonder, pharmaceutical researcher Dr. Marina Singh sets off into the Amazon jungle to find the remains and effects of a colleague who recently died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. But first she must locate Dr. Anneck Swenson, a renowned gynecologist who has spent years looking at the reproductive habits of a local tribe where women can conceive well into their middle ages and beyond. Eccentric and notoriously tough, Swenson is paid to find the key to this longstanding childbearing ability by the same company for which Dr. Singh works. Yet that isn’t their only connection: both have an overlapping professional past that Dr. Singh has long tried to forget. In finding her former mentor, Dr. Singh must face her own disappointments and regrets, along with the jungle’s unforgiving humidity and insects, making State of Wonder a multi-layered atmospheric novel that is hard to put down. Indeed, Patchett solidifies her well-deserved place as one of today’s master storytellers. Emotional, vivid, and a work of literature that will surely resonate with readers in the weeks and months to come, State of Wonder truly is a thing of beauty and mystery, much like the Amazon jungle itself. --Jessica Schein


Amazon Exclusive: Elizabeth Gilbert Interviews Ann Patchett

Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Eat, Pray, Love, as well as the short story collection Pilgrims—a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and winner of the 1999 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, she works as writer-at-large for GQ.

Elizabeth Gilbert: As your close personal friend, I happen to know that you traveled to the Amazon to conduct research for this novel, and that you sort of hated the Amazon--can you share a little about that?

Ann Patchett: I absolutely loved the Amazon for four days. It was gorgeous and unfamiliar and deeply fascinating. Unfortunately, I stayed there for ten days. There are a lot of insects in the Amazon, a lot of mud, surprisingly few vegetables, too many snakes. You can’t go anywhere by yourself, which makes sense if you don’t know the terrain, but I enjoy going places by myself. I can see how great it would be for a very short visit, and how great it would be if you lived there and had figured out what was and wasn’t going to kill you, but the interim length of time isn’t great.

EG: Didn't I hear that you have a sort of magical story about a friend who is also a writer, who was also once going to write a book about the Amazon? Can you share this miraculous tale? Also, is your writer friend pretty?

AP: This friend of mine, who happens to be you, is gorgeous, and much taller in real life. Yes, you were writing a novel about the Amazon, and then you decided not to write a novel about the Amazon, and then I started writing a novel about the Amazon, and later when we compared notes (your book dismissed, mine halfway finished) they had remarkably similar story lines, to the point of being eerie. I thought this must be because it was an incredibly banal idea and we had both come up with a generic Amazon novel, but then you told me that ideas fly around looking for homes, and when the idea hadn’t worked out with you it came to me. If this is true I think your name should be on the cover. It would increase sales significantly.

EG: Readers of your prior work--particularly the luminous Bel Canto--will be delighted to see that opera makes an appearance in this novel, as well. In fact, one of the most dramatic scenes in the book takes place at the opera. Is that a wink and a nod to loyal readers, or just an expression of your own deep and abiding musical passions?

AP: It’s a wink and a nod to Werner Herzog and his brilliant Amazon film “Fitzcarraldo” which opens at the opera house in Manaus where the aforementioned scene takes place. I had very little experience with opera when I wrote Bel Canto, and since then it’s become a huge part of my life. It was fun to write a scene set at the opera now that I know what I’m talking about.

EG: State of Wonder a rollicking adventure story, full of peril and bravery and death-defying action. I personally know you to be a homebody who likes to bake muffins for neighbors. How the heck did you pull off this wildness so convincingly? Was it as invigorating to write as it is to read?

AP: Ah, the life of the mind. All the adventure I need I can dream up in my kitchen. I love writing outside of my own experience, making imaginary worlds. If I wrote novels based on my own life I would not be making a living at this. I also love to write a strong plot. I want things to happen in my books, I want to be thrilled. I always think about Raymond Chandler. I’m sure I’m getting the phrasing wrong but the general idea is that when things get slow, bring in a man with a gun. If you can’t find a gun, a poison arrow works just as well.

EG: The cover is a work of beauty. Authors are not always so lucky. Tell us how you managed such a miracle?

AP: When I first started writing this book, I came downstairs one night and found my husband listening to “Horowitz at Carnegie Hall”. The album cover has a very lush filigreed border. I had two thoughts: first, I have an amazing husband who thankfully held onto his Horowitz LPs; second, that the album cover had the exact the feeling I wanted for my book--half jungle, half Baroque period. When I was finished writing the novel I sent the album to my editor, who sent it to the art department. They understood exactly what I was talking about.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:38 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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