Book Synopsis: 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, yet propelled by her sense of duty, 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 the daunting Dr. Swenson does not like interlopers inserting themselves in 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 expectations-a journey that will force her to make painful moral choices and take her deep into her own heart of darkness.A rich narrative dense with atmosphere and full of deeply realized characters, packed with amazing twists and surprises-encounters with an anaconda, cannibals, death, and birth-State of Wonder is Ann Patchett's most enthralling and confident novel, a tale that will leave readers in their own state of wonder, examining their own values and beliefs.
I've never read anything by Ann Patchett before and when HarperCollins asked if I was interesting in reading and reviewing the story, back when it was released in June, I said yes. Unfortunately the book got buried in the bottom of my tbr pile and set aside with all the rest during my efforts to complete my last college course. My bad. I finally got around to reading it and have to say was completely taken with the story and the characters. Marina seemed like the last likely person to be picked to go to the amazon to follow up on Dr. Swenson's research and to find out what happened to Dr. Eekman. She is meek, full of doubts and fears and hides away in the research lab. The trip totally takes her totally out of her comfort zone and forces her to face herself and her life, helps her discover a new strength and purpose, while battling not only Dr. Swenson but the amazon itself. Yes, there are times you want to grab Marina's shoulders and shake some sense into her.
Patchett makes the Amazonian forest come alive and it's just a much a character as the people are. Man against nature, man again man, man against self - the story has it all. State of Wonder is not a book to be read fast - her writing forces you to slow down. To think, absorb, and yes, wonder as the characters wonder down the amazon and through the forest. As the characters wonder about their choices and the ethics of science. I don't usually get emotionally vested in a story, but have to say the ended left me happily teary eyed.
Thank you to Ann Patchett for writing such a wonder story and I'm looking forward to reading Bel Canto and her other books. Harper Collins very nicely provided me with two copies of the ARC so I have one copy to give away to one of my lovely followers. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only through October 8th. Leave your name and email address in the comments and the winner will be picked via Random.org.
Publisher: Harper Collins
Released: June 7, 2011
"Patchett fills the book with her glorious writing, ethical issues, and character exploration, and the result is a beautiful, wild, and utterly devastating novel on the nature of science and humanity. If you’re looking for a gorgeously written novel that will really make you think, this is definitely a novel to seek out."
"a modern-day Heart of Darkness with a female protagonist, State of Wonder beautifully captures the joys and fears associated with nature, and the essence of human connections and disconnections, in love and in friendship."
"Every word written with purpose, every nuance of character important to the story. It was so hard to put down and so hard to stop thinking about when I did."