"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Friday, June 22, 2012

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (review)

State of Wonder
Author:  Ann Patchett
Published: May 2012 (this edition)
Publisher:  Harper Perennial
Pages: 384
Source:  I received a complimentary copy of State of Wonder from TLC book tours in exchange for an honest opinion, without prejudice.

"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-infested 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." (from TLC Book Tours)

My Review:

“Never be so focused on what you're looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.” 

State of Wonder is definitely one of the very best books I've read...ever!  When I first introduced this novel, I had barely begun the journey that I will not soon forget.  Here's what I said, "Now I know what all the fuss is about! This book is phenomenal! It had me wiping away the tears in the first chapter, sitting at the edge of my seat, feeling astounded by elements of the story, and mesmerized by the entirety of it all!" (GoodReads and My Bookshelf)

Now that I have completed reading State of Wonder, and contemplate this incredible work of fiction, I must share with you, each and every one of you, just how astounding this story really is.  The plot is based upon mysteries surrounding pharmaceutical research being conducted in high secrecy within the jungles of the Amazon.  When one of her co-workers is announced dead in the Amazon, and another, Dr. Annick Swenson, is considered "out of touch", Dr. Marina Singh is recruited to fly there to discover the details of the death and to determine the development stage of pharmaceutical research into a fertility drug.  It is this research that had taken Dr. Swenson to the jungle, that took Dr. Anders Eckman to his demise, and has now brought this trip of discovery to Dr. Marina Singh.

Imagine the locale.  Deep within the jungles where insects, tarantulas, boa constrictors and poisonous snakes are residents, amidst the indigenous tribes of cannibals and the Lakashi people (another indigenous tribe - not cannibals), that the research into a fertility drug is being conducted.  The women of the Lakashi tribe are still fertile and bearing children into their seventies, thus the research into developing a fertility drug that would allow the same for women worldwide.  Just think...pregnant at seventy....appealing, isn't it?  

As Marina encounters the ferocity of the environment, the wonder of the Lakashi people, the mystery of her co-worker's death; she must face her inner demons .... terrors that emerge in her dreams, memories long ago suppressed, now refuse to be forgotten.  In the jungles of the Amazon, Marina finds answers ... not only to the death of Dr. Eckman, but to the truth behind the fertility research, and to her own horrors. But all is not grim. The answers Marina reveals are only a portion of the revelations the Amazon has.  It is here that Marina discovers simple beauties, a kinship with people with whom she can barely communicate, and forgiveness for herself.  In the depths of darkness, amidst soaring trees, and chattering monkeys, an unmistakable peace awaits.  Just be careful that what you're looking for doesn't overshadow the thing you actually find.

State of Wonder is a well researched work of fiction by novelist Ann Patchett, author of bestsellers including Bel Canto and  Run, that could very well be a reality.  The protagonist, Marina Singh, leaps to life from within the pages, her environment a living breathing entity, the Amazon as beautiful as it is potentially deadly.  State of Wonder is a perfect example of how one's love of books, reading and knowledge can be personified in just one volume.  State of Wonder is a must read!

Ann Patchett is the author of six novels including:  Run (a New York TImes bestseller); The Patron Saint of Liars (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year); Taft (winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize); The Magician's Assistant; and Bel Canto (winner of The PEN/Faulkner Award, the BookSense Book of the Year, the Orange Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and State of Wonder.  Ms. Patchett has also written two pieces of nonfiction:  Truth & Beauty and What Now?  She has also authored many publications in magazines including Harper's Magazine, Gourmet, the Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, and for the papers:  the New York Times and the Washington Post.  She resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I'm so glad you loved the book! Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors, so this makes me especially happy.

    Thanks for being on the tour!


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