State of Wonder by Anne Patchett

“After taking in all the information the menu had to offer, Dr. Swenson laid it down. Now that she knew what she would have for dinner she was ready to begin. “Allow me to be direct, Dr. Singh,” she said, folding her glasses back into their padded case. “It will save us both some time. You shouldn’t have come. There must be a way of convincing Mr. Fox that continual monitoring does not speed productivity. Maybe that can be a project for you when your return home. You can tell him I am fine, and that it would better suit his own purposes to leave me alone.”
When Mr. Fox receives a blue airmail letter, informing him that Anders Eckman is dead, he goes in fear and trembling to Marina Singh. He is her boss, and  lover, at Vogel Pharmaceuticals. It is decided that she will go into the Amazon jungle of Brazil to discover what has happened. After all, Anders’ wife Karen refuses to believe that he is dead.
Ann Patchett takes us along with Marina into the depths of Brazil as if we were truly there ourselves. There we swipe at insects (as hitting them only hammers them into one’s skin), watch for lancehead snakes to drop unexpectedly from a branch, and meet the indigenous people. For Marina, this means the Lakashi tribe whose women remain fertile all of their lives.
Researching this phenomenon is Marina’s former teacher, seventy-something Dr. Swenson. She reminds me exactly of my grandmother: undeterred in her purpose, brusque in her manner, incredibly skilled in her knowledge. But, Marina carries with her the weight of a terrible event which happened in Baltimore when she was a resident under Dr. Swenson’s guidance.
And so we read to discover the truth about Anders Eckman, the discovery of Dr. Swenson’s research, the ways of the Lakashi tribe, and ultimately, the courage of Marina. Who has determined that she will unearth all that is to be found, and in the process prove that she is competent. She is more capable than even she knew herself to be.
I consider the State of Wonder by Ann Patchett to be one of the outstanding books I’ve read in 2012. Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book.
p.s. There is a deaf and dumb child in this book, a boy by the name of Easter, who has lived with Dr. Swenson since he was abandoned by his people when he became very ill. He is so incredibly winsome, so charming, so skilled at navigating the tributaries and winning the hearts of the people, that I have to say he was my favorite character of all. I would have read this book for his story alone.

33 thoughts on “State of Wonder by Anne Patchett

  1. So glad you enjoyed this one – its one of my favorites! Such a great book – the writing is terrific and the story is so engrossing. Have to admit the only thing I didn't really like was the ending – just didn't think it flowed with the rest of the story. What did you think? And I agree with you about Easter – I loved his character and his story.


  2. Thanks, Patty. The review seemed to flow quite easily for me as I just finished the book late last night and tried to sleep on the images ( as well as conclusion). It is a very powerful and atmospheric read.


  3. The ending was a complete shocker! On one hand I loved how Marina proved herself strong; on the other, I was heartbroken about Easter. I'm just going to trust he finds his way back to Dr. Swenson and his “family” with her.


  4. I don't normally enjoy books that deal with insects and jungles and largely uneducated people (how's that for an attitude from a teacher?!) but this book just hit a chord with me. I think it's because the characters were so beautifully and thoughtfully drawn.


  5. The only other work of hers I'd read is Bel Canto which I loved. Hard to believe I'm two years older than she is; she has such remarkable skill for someone so young. 😉


  6. I hate when I have to return a book before I'm finished with it! There was a time in my life when it was easier to buy a copy than pay the overdue fine. Now I'm more responsible. I hope you get a chance to finish it, Edgar. The ending is really worth it.


  7. I was trying to achieve a jungle effect, Suko, but the best I could do was place the book on top of my husband's hostas. I really recommend picking it up if you get the chance.


  8. That's for sure, Diane! I can't say if I liked this better than Bel Canto, but I don't think you can compare them. Her writing is just magnificent no matter what her topic.


  9. I'm going to read this one of these days.
    I have never read her so I'm not sure if I will first read this or Bel Canto.
    I like the photo you added very much. It seems perfect for the book.


  10. I'm still kicking myself for somehow not seeing this book listed on available TLC Books review tours. But now I have an amazing book to look forward to! I like Patchett's writing and she seems to come up with unique, interesting situations and events in her books and fascinating characters. The title of this book even intrigues me. I so glad you loved it.
    This is a terrific review! I really enjoyed it. Thank you :o)


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