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State of Wonder

by Ann Patchett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,3513571,464 (3.87)3 / 512
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 (350)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (354)
Showing 1-5 of 350 (next | show all)
Hope Davis' narration was great - highly recommend the audiobook version because of that. ( )
  jlweiss | Apr 23, 2021 |
The underlying theme makes you think about what really goes on when scientists are doing their research. The book dragged while Marina is trying to understand the meanings of her relationship with her married boss, her leaving a doctor career, her wanting to help a co-worker's wife understand her husband's supposed death, and her trying to get to the research team in the Amazon. When Marina finally has to deal with the issues in the jungle and deal with her former professor, I finally started to see why people wanted me to read the book. ( )
  kshydog | Dec 13, 2020 |
Dr. Marina Singh is sent to the Amazon jungle to look for her former mentor and to find out the details of the last days of a colleague who was reported to have died while on the same quest. Readers are subjected to long and detailed descriptions of the jungle and all its horrors. We also see a friendship develop between Marina and a young deaf boy. Don’t expect a lot of plot in this character-driven novel. All these characters are flawed in some manner, and readers will hope that they will show some growth and development before their story ends. Unfortunately, the author has spent so much time in her wordy descriptions of insects, snakes, and diseases, by the time she is close to the conclusion of the story, she has, alas, run out of time and evidently words to write a satisfying ending. Too many story threads are left dangling. If the point of the story is the journey and not the end, then this journey was pretty boring and the end totally lackluster. I know this got rave reviews from professional reviewers as well as the many readers who post amateur ones, but I am not in that majority, although I admire those who felt the time they invested in the novel well worth it. I wish I had that 12 hours and 23 minutes back. I have to wonder (in my state of disappointment) if any other name but Ann Patchett had been on it, would it have been so well received? ( )
  Maydacat | Nov 16, 2020 |
Ah, to have another novel with the same sense of wonder as Bel Canto! And even named "State of Wonder" to boot.

Dr. Marina Singh, employed by a pharmaceutical company, follows fellow scientist Anders Eckman into the Amazon at the behest of her boss (and lover), Mr. Fox. Mr. Fox had received a letter from a field scientist, Dr. Swenson, saying that Eckman, who had come to urge her to provide more frequent reports of her progress, had gotten a fever and died there. Swenson's work is part of an effort to develop a fertility drug for the pharmaceutical company.

There are complications. Not least of them is the fact that Swenson is notoriously difficult to find and to persuade. She wants to do things her way and not be hurried or harassed. She has a young couple set up in her "town" apartment whose main job is to divert those who are interested in meeting with Swenson.

Marina was chosen in large part because she was a student of Swenson's years ago. Supposedly she knows how to get through to her. Marina is not so sure but allows herself to be persuaded to go. The main reason she decides to go is that Eckman's wife wants to be absolutely certain that her husband is dead. She wants Marina to find proof. She prefers to believe that he is still alive until she is given that proof.

The first many days in the little town are spent trying to connect to Dr. Swenson. When she is finally successful she follows the good doctor into the Amazon, on her boat. There she is soon absorbed by Swenson's work and by meeting and learning about the natives.

Marina's character is caring and giving, and also very human. It is easy to relate to her and to want the most for her and even to want her affair with "Mr. Fox" to go well in spite of the large difference in their ages (Fox is many years older.) There is a warmth and kindness not only in Marina but in many of the other characters as well, even, to some extent, the unyielding Dr. Swenson. Is it this that attracted me to this book? Yes, but there is more. There is the way Marina faces her life in the Amazon, how she makes her decisions, what she actually does, that is just delightful, although that word may not seem appropriate at times. As in Bel Canto, there is unexpected pleasure throughout. What more could you want? ( )
1 vote slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 350 (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
Patchett, Annprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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.

No library descriptions found.

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Haiku summary
endless river
love lost
love found

Everything's easy
after killing


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