State of Wonder

State of Wonder

Large Print - 2011
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"Expect miracles when you read Ann Patchett's fiction."--New York Times Book Review

Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Ann Patchett returns with a provocative and assured novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest. Infusing the narrative with the same ingenuity and emotional urgency that pervaded her acclaimed previous novels Bel Canto, Taft, Run, The Magician's Assistant, and The Patron Saint of Liars, Patchett delivers an enthrallingly innovative tale of aspiration, exploration, and attachment in State of Wonder--a gripping adventure story and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love.

Publisher: New York : HarperLuxe, c2011.
Edition: Large print ed.
ISBN: 9780062065216
Characteristics: 526 p. (large print) ; 23 cm.


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Jul 20, 2019

It probably would have gotten five stars except for some disappointment at the ending. I've read two other Patchett novels - Bel Canto and The Magician's Assistant - and I loved Bel and didn't like Magician's. So, this was the tiebreaker for me and I very much enjoyed it. Not unlike Bel this was about an ordinary person (she was from Eden Prairie, MN!) in extraordinary circumstances. Marina Singh is a research pharmacologist who is sent by her firm to the Amazon after a colleague dies there when he is checking up on a scientist doing research who has been out of communication for a long period of time. I really don't want to give anymore details because a great deal of the pleasure in reading this novel is having events unfold in front of you while you're in a - well, um - state of wonder. Like Bel, Patchett has written another novel that is both wonderfully and compellingly plotted and peopled, and also an invitation to ruminate on deep issues of ethics, sacrifice, loyalty, etc. I wasn't wild about the ending, which felt more like a stop than a conclusion, but otherwise a wonderful book.

JessicaGma Jul 05, 2019

I do enjoy reads about mad scientists and this was an interesting one. Maria Swensen is perhaps not so much mad as driven to the point of excluding everything else. Marina Singh is a pale character in comparison, sort of dull and only reacting to everything else that is going on instead of actually doing something. It was different.

Aug 06, 2018

OK, I realize I'm completely out of step with almost everyone who has praised this book. I beg to differ; call be an uptight, moralistic snob if you will, but I found both the premise and several of the prime characters objectionable. And that spoiled the whole story for me.
1. Surely the last thing our planet needs is to enable women to continue producing more children throughout their lives! The drug company pretends to aim at helping childless couples conceive but let's be honest: They plan to make piles of money by enabling well-heeled urbanites to bear children after they've had a lucrative career.
2. Are we to believe that a big drug company would provide unlimited funding to a scientist hiding in the Amazon basin without knowing what was up? Real life scenario: Three guys with thick shoulders are dispatched the first time our letters and phone calls are not answered; and funding disappears very quickly. No, Mr. Fox has to know exactly what's going on.
3. How about "Mr. Fox" (notice he's always "Mr.") sending two of his valuable scientists off on a dangerous, poorly defined mission -- including sending his supposed lover after the first doctor has apparently died under unknown circumstances? He's a boss we would all love to have!
4. And of course there's Swenson, a "mad scientist" hell-bent on personal glory and the well-being of everyone else be damned! The agony of Ekman's wife, left with three small children and no answers is of no concern to her whatsoever.
5. And of course there are the two freeloaders the Bovenders living a life of luxury, no questions asked, all bills paid, acting as Swenson's gatekeepers. They haven't even the decency to allow Ekman's letters to and from his wife to reach their addressee.
These are despicable people I don't care to read about.
Two stars for the quality of the prose. I began skimming after 140 pages, finally abandoned it in distaste after 300.

HCL_staff_reviews Jul 30, 2018

Since medical school Dr. Marina Singh has lived her life doing pharmaceutical research for a corporation in Minnesota. When her dear friend and colleague, Anders Eckman, dies in the Amazon trying to bring a research project to a close Marina travels to Brazil to bring his body home. Ann Patchett describes both Minnesota and Brazil in pitch perfect tones. She brings mystery, suspense, and surprise to the page in beautiful prose that keeps the reader awake at night far past the reader's bedtime. — Maureen M.S., Edina Library

JCLMelodyMK Mar 24, 2017

This book is set mainly deep in the Amazon jungle. Scientists are studying a native village in Brazil. One of the scientists, Dr. Anneck Swen-son, recently arriving at the village goes missing and then said to be dead. Dr. Marina Singh is sent to track down just what happened to her coworker Anneck. As I moved farther into the story the more engaged and curious I became. A captivating read that takes you to an Amazon jungle. Another great read from Ann Patchett, truly an interesting read that made me think back to how many medicines are developed from rain forests, they don’t start out as pills and liquids.

Mar 21, 2017

See my review at:

Jan 29, 2017

Without resorting to narrative tricks, or creating a chronology salad, Patchett has mastered the art of telling a straight story well. With no experience academia, I was struck by the level of research that must have gone into this book. Also, the complex moral questions would make this great for book clubs.

Props to Hope Davis for narrating a stunning audiobook. Every sentence uttered by Dr Swenson made me cringe, so palpable was her derision.

Nov 14, 2016

All are predictable (I was like Karen, did not believe her husband died...) and satisfactory, still full of "small" wonders (*), except for the reunion of Marina and Anders which is sublime. A semi-sci-fi, but I wasn't awed as much as Teddy Roosevelt's real adventure in "River of Doubt".
Knowing too much of any of the non-essential prerequisites (reproductive biology, mycology, ecology, drug chemistry, clinical trial, bioethics, capitalism...evolution) can add cynicism to reading of such sumptuous tribute to several modern concerns.

*: The mushroom (gives high pleasure and hallucination to brain), the tree (which barks preserve women's fertility to old age), the blue moth (produces anti-malaria immunity) - all are in symbiotic relationship as nature should be. Human (women) don't necessarily want to have numerous children spanning 60 years, nor tirelessly seek a rational remedy for tropical malady, but they cannot help getting ecstasy along with receiving its inadvertent effect, wow, this is more ingenious and efficient than having sex! A drug derived from such a source would, in one dose, have efficacy in triple usage.
- My wild guess provoked, I'm not sure if these thoughts were in author's mind. But I don't find her real intention - character studies of two females (...) - is interesting enough.

Oct 29, 2016

This story really made me think, it is filled with profound allegory. The author's writing style describes well and is down to earth, transitioning to different scenes at times-I might like to try her audiobooks. There is a sense of balance with a satisfying ending, but not everything is resolved.

Sep 21, 2016

Excellent story, well written. Did not want it to end. Highly recommend for a good read.

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CBearjkn Jan 22, 2013

CBearjkn thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Oct 10, 2012

MurielW thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Michael Colford Mar 02, 2011

Patchett takes us from Boston to the deepest hidden realms of the Amazon in this layered, haunting tale of biomedical exploration and the search for ourselves. Outstanding writing is Patchett's hallmark in this intricately layered novel. Deep, complex strands of narrative all come together beautifully and characters, both main and incidental are fully explored and brought to life. This is a masterful work.


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