Monday, July 11, 2011

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

State of Wonder in the newest novel by prize winning author Ann Patchett.  It is one of the "big" novels of the year.  It does not disappoint.

When a pharmaceutical researcher, Dr. Anneck Swenson, fails to keep her employer informed from the Amazon about her research into a drug that ensures everlasting fertility for women, the corporation sends another researcher to find out what is going on.  Instead of receiving a status report, the president of the company receives a short note from Dr. Swenson stating that the emissary died and was buried. The emissary's widow demands answers and the president of the corporation wants to know the timetable for the research.  The president sends the novel's protagonist and his love interest, Dr. Marin Singh, to find out what happened to his first emissary and what is going on with Dr. Swenson's research.  Singh reluctantly goes.

Dr. Swenson is tough, curt and yet clear-headed and sharp.  She was Dr. Singh's teacher years before and, although she heavily impacted Singh's career, does not recall Singh.  She also has no patience for the corporation's interference in her work.  The novel opens with Singh's trip to the Amazon and her adventures there.  Singh first must overcome the obstacles Swenson puts in her path to find out what happened and then must tackle the Amazon itself.

State of Wonder opens with a bang and begins like a page turning medical thriller.  After grabbing the reader's attention, it develops into a beautifully crafted novel.  Patchett's characters are multi-dimensional, including the silent character that permeates the novel, the Amazon jungle.  By stripping her characters of their possessions and placing them in the jungle, Patchett tests and pushes her characters to their extremes.

This is a worthy addition to any reading list.

Interview with Patchett:

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed the novel, but I had a big problem with Marina's character. She was kind of a blank slate at best.

    My thoughts are here: