Saturday, March 3, 2012

Book Review: State of Wonder

Dr. Marina Singh is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr.Annick Swenson, who seems to have disappeared into the Amazon. Marina's partner, Dr. Anders Eckman was sent first, but word came back via a short letter - he's dead.

Science, subterfuge, and sacrifice. Ann Patchett weaves a tale complete with poison arrows. There's the business aspect of pharmaceuticals, there's love and death, a possible cure for malaria or is it a fertility drug, and there's the beauty of the jungle and stepping out of a safe world and into one full of wonder.

Smooth writing, intriguing characters, and a slow building tension infuse State of Wonder. I liked this book and found myself caught up in a different world. I marveled along with Dr. Singh as to how someone so practical could be carried along from one bizarre situation to another. It must have been the heat and humidity.

p. 43 Karen Eckman upon hearing of her husband's death: Hope is a horrible thing you know. I don't know who decided to package hope as a virtue because it's not. It's a plague.

p. 75 Marina's view of the Hotel Indira: From the grand exterior, she entered a lobby of palm plants and tired brown sofas that slumped together as if they had come as far as they could and then given up.

p. 218 Dr. Swenson: I keep hoping that you are more than you show yourself to be, Dr. Singh. I am just on the verge of liking you, but you dwell on the most mundane points.

Ann Patchett's State of Wonder is worth the journey to the Amazon. And yes, Dr. Singh, turns out to be more, much more.

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