Wednesday 19 July 2017

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

The story starts in Minnesota, where Marina Singh and her boss, Mr. Fox hears about the untimely death of her colleague, Anders Eckman from the depths of a remote part of the Amazon jungle. Anders was visiting to check up on the progress of Dr. Annick Swenson, who went to the Brazilian Rio Negro - filled with poisonous plants, dangerous insects, and of course anacondas, to research the possibility of developing a fertility drug. Problem was, that was five years ago. If she returns, with success, the pharmaceutical company that sent her reaps the rewards of their investment. If not, well they look stupid. She doesn't seem to care either way.

I could go on. This was one great adventure, and I'd love to spend the rest of this post telling you about it. I won't. Patchett nails each scene - from the snowy city of Minnesota, to the bustle of waiting in sunny wet Manaus for an appearance by the famed Dr. Swenson, to the terrifying sameness of the vast Amazonian waterways. There are surprises around the u-bend of every meandering stream.

The characters are also memorable - Marina's damaged soul, the ex-pats and their frivolity, and of course the inimitable Dr. Swenson - her aloofness, her fierceness, her intelligence, her courage, her doggedness. 

Suspending your disbelief is a necessity for this creative novel. If you manage to, it will be  the originality of ideas  that will  knock you out. Way out enough to be completely different from everything I've read, yet just possibly within the realms of what could happen. Maybe. 

What a ride!

5 stars


You may also enjoy Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, or what about Rosamund Lupton's The Quality of Silence?

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