“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.