Author: Ann Patchett
Paperback: 353 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Published date: May 2012 (Hardcover 2011)
FTC: Received for review for TLC Book Tours
Ann Patchett is up there on my list of favorite authors. I absolutely devoured and cried over Bel Canto. I reviewed her novel Run a few years ago and I can still remember the characters as if I saw it as a movie. You can always count on Ann Patchett's books as being beautifully written. They do not disappoint.
This is the type of book that you want to stay up all night reading. You want to shirk off all responsibilities and just read State of Wonder all the time -- over dinner, while waiting at doctor's office, getting up early before your child wakes up. It's that good.
I will be adding to my review in the next few days as I finish up the book. In the meantime, here is the synopsis:
The back of the book:
In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, scientific miracles, and spiritual transformations, State of Wonder presents a world of stunning surprise and danger, rich in emotional resonance and moral complexity.
As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infected Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness. Stirring and luminous, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss beneath the rain forest's jeweled canopy.
I finally was able to have some me time and finish this beautiful book. Sigh. I love delving into books like these and meeting wonderful characters and armchair traveling to exotic places.
While I wanted to read this book because of the Amazonian location, I ended up loving this book because of the characters. Dr. Swenson is an epic antagonistic character.
"Just the thought of Dr. Swenson gave Marina the sensation of a cold hand groping for her heart." p. 10
"A tiny woman made tinier by distance fixes one hundred people to their seats with a a voice that never troubles itself to be raised, and because they are all afraid of her and because they are afraid of missing anything she might say, they stay as long as she chooses to keep them." p. 11
Awesome right? So this is the formidable seventy-something year-old lady Marina is sent to find deep in the Amazonian jungle.
Ann Patchett has a way with most of her novels at really making me feel emotionally connected to the story and the characters. At the beginning of State of Wonder, Marina's co-worker, Anders, had previously been sent to find out the status of Dr. Swenson's study in the Amazon when they get the news of his death. Marina is sucked into telling the wife and mother of three boys that her husband will not be coming back.
Marina is then tasked with the job of traveling in Ander's footsteps - heading from Minnesota to Manaus and the jungle of the Amazon. I loved her description of the almost claustrophobic feeling of the jungle, the humidity, the bugs, the side effects of taking the malaria pills.
"She felt the plant life pressing against the edges of the water, straining towards them, every root and tendril reaching..." p. 183
But the real reason I love and read Patchett's books are the characters. The Bovenders: the beautiful blonde couple who are set up in Manaus by Dr Swenson to deflect anyone who comes looking for the doctor. Easter: the deaf native boy Dr Swenson's team practically adopts. Milton: the loyal cab driver and all-around helper. I even came to love Anders, who we get to know by his constant letters to his wife and his devotion to helping Easter write and communicate.
Does Ann Patchett deliberately pull heart-strings in her novels? Absolutely. Do I mind? Not at all.
The paperback version:
The jungle surrounds the cover and back and even wraps around into the flaps. It's beautifully made and really conveys the claustrophobic feeling Marina and Anders felt:
TLC TOUR STOPS
Tuesday, May 8th: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, May 9th: Take Me Away
Monday, May 14th: Proud Book Nerd
Tuesday, May 15th: Tiramisu Mom
Wednesday, May 16th: Jo-Jo Loves to Read!
Friday, May 18th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, May 21st: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Tuesday, May 22nd: Lit and Life
Wednesday, May 23rd: Shall Write
Thursday, May 24th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, May 30th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, May 31st: Paperback Princess
Thursday, June 7th: Dolce Bellezza
Monday, June 11th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, June 12th: Amused By Books
Thursday, June 14th: missris
Friday, June 15th: Book Him Danno!
Monday, June 18th: A Library of My Own
Friday, June 22nd: My Bookshelf
Tuesday, June 19th: The Scarlet Letter
Wednesday, June 27th: Man of La Book