State of Wonder

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Overview

Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to the Amazon to find her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have disappeared while working on a new drug. No one knows where Dr. Swenson is, and the last person sent to find her died before completing his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey in hopes of finding answers.

Now in her seventies, the uncompromising Dr. Swenson dominates her research team and ...

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Overview

Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to the Amazon to find her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have disappeared while working on a new drug. No one knows where Dr. Swenson is, and the last person sent to find her died before completing his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey in hopes of finding answers.

Now in her seventies, the uncompromising Dr. Swenson dominates her research team and the natives with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices are those Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she is still unable to live up to her teacher’s expectations.

Replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and cannibals, State of Wonder is a tale that leads you into the very heart of darkness, and then shows what lies on the other side.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Sometimes being on the vanguard of scientific progress thrusts you into the teeth of danger. For Minnesota pharmaceutical researcher Dr. Marina Singh, that means being sent into the remotest region of the Amazon jungle to track down her former mentor. Finding Dr. Annick Swenson promises to be perilous: The last scientist assigned to find her has disappeared too. What follows is the most ambitious novel yet by Bel Canto author Ann Patchett as its adventure story opens into a penetrating study of personalities, loyalties, and ethics. Editor's recommendation.

Publishers Weekly
Patchett (Bel Canto) is a master storyteller who has an entertaining habit of dropping ordinary people into extraordinary and exotic circumstances to see what they're made of. In this expansive page-turner, Marina Singh, a big pharma researcher, is sent by her married boss/lover to the deepest, darkest corner of the Amazon to investigate the death of her colleague, Anders Eckman, who had been dispatched to check on the progress of the incommunicado Dr. Annick Swenson, a rogue scientist on the cusp of developing a fertility drug that could rock the medical profession (and reap enormous profits). After arriving in Manaus, Marina travels into her own heart of darkness, finding Dr. Swenson's camp among the Lakashi, a gentle but enigmatic tribe whose women go on bearing children until the end of their lives. As Marina settles in, she goes native, losing everything she had held on to so dearly in her prescribed Midwestern life, shedding clothing, technology, old loves, and modern medicine in order to find herself. Patchett's fluid prose dissolves in the suspense of this out-there adventure, a juggernaut of a trip to the crossroads of science, ethics, and commerce that readers will hate to see end. (June)
Booklist
“In fluid and remarkably atmospheric prose, Patchett captures not only the sights and sounds of the chaotic jungle environment but also the struggles and sacrifice of dedicated scientists.”
O magazine
“The large canvas of sweeping moral issues, both personal and global, comes to life through careful attention to details, however seemingly mundane—from ill-fitting shoes and mosquito bites to a woman tenderly braiding another woman’s hair.”
New York Times
“An engaging, consummately told tale.”
Washington Post
“This is surely the smartest, most exciting novel of the summer.”
Wall Street Journal
“Packs a textbook’s worth of ethical conundrums into a smart and tidily delivered story. . . . Ms. Patchett presents an alluring interplay between civilization and wilderness, between aid and exploitation.”
NPR
“The Amazon setting is something Patchett does rather marvelously. . . . The book is serious, but also so pleasurable that you hope it won’t end.”
Booklist
“In fluid and remarkably atmospheric prose, Patchett captures not only the sights and sounds of the chaotic jungle environment but also the struggles and sacrifice of dedicated scientists.”
The New Yorker
“Emotionally lucid. . . . Patchett is at her lyrical best when she catalogues the jungle.”
Elle
“Outlandishly entertaining . . . [with] a brilliantly constructed plot.”
Shelf Awareness
“Patchett makes the jungle jump off the page…This is Patchett’s best effort since The Patron Saint of Liars and, yes, that includes Bel Canto
MORE Magazine
“A thrilling new novel. . . . The world imagined in this novel is unusually vivid. . . . Reading State of Wonder is a sensory experience, and even after it’s over you’ll keep hearing the sounds of insects, and your own head will still be hot.”
Library Journal
In this superbly rendered novel, Patchett (Run) takes the reader into the primitive world of the Amazon in Brazil. Pharmacologist Marina Singh from Minnesota works for the pharmaceutical company Vogel. Her colleague Anders Eckman dies in the jungle while trying to locate Dr. Annick Swenson, who has been working on a fertility drug for Vogel by studying the Lakashi people, whose women bear children into old age. Marina's journey to the Amazon to find the uncommunicative and intimidating Dr. Swenson and to discover the details of Anders's death is fraught with poisonous snakes and poisonous memories, malarial mosquitoes and sickening losses, but her time among the Lakashi tribe is transformative. VERDICT Not a sentimental view of a primitive people, Patchett's portrayal is as wonderful as it is frightening and foreign. Patchett exhibits an extraordinary ability to bring the horrors and the wonders of the Amazon jungle to life, and her singular characters are wonderfully drawn. Readers who enjoy exotic locales will especially be interested, but all will find this story powerful and captivating. [See Prepub Alert, 11/29/10.]—Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA
Library Journal
Marina Singh, who's given up her medical practice for the relative quiet of pharmaceutical research, finds her world upturned when she's suddenly sent to the Amazon. A field team there, working on a new drug, has been unresponsive for two years, and Marina's colleague Anders, who has gone to investigate, is reported dead. An adventurous story of science and responsibility from the ever-popular Patchett, who's being rewarded with a one-day laydown on June 7, a 300,000-copy first printing, and a 12-city tour. Buy multiples.
Kirkus Reviews
A pharmacologist travels into the Amazonian heart of darkness in this spellbinder from bestselling author Patchett (Run,2007, etc.).

Marina Singh is dispatched from the Vogel pharmaceutical company to Brazil to find out what happened to her colleague Anders Eckman, whose death was announced in a curt letter from Annick Swenson. Anders had been sent to check on Dr. Swenson's top-secret research project among the Lakashi tribe, whose women continue to bear children into their 60s and 70s. If a fertility drug can be derived from whatever these women are ingesting, the potential rewards are so enormous that Swenson has been pursuing her work for years with scant oversight from Vogel; the company doesn't even know exactly where she is in the Amazon. Marina, who went into pharmacology after making a disastrous mistake as an obstetrics resident under Dr. Swenson's supervision, really doesn't want to see this intimidating woman again, but she feels an obligation to her friend Anders and his grief-stricken wife. So she goes to Manaus, seeking clues to Dr. Swenson's location in the jungle. By the time the doctor turns up unexpectedly, Patchett has skillfully crafted a portrait from Marina's memories and subordinates' comments that gives Swenson the dark eminence of Joseph Conrad's Mr. Kurtz. Engaged like Kurtz in godlike pursuits among the natives, Swenson is performing some highly unorthodox experiments, the ramifications of which have even more possibilities than Vogel imagines. Indeed, the multiple and highly dramatic developments that ensue once Marina gets to the Lakashi village might seem ridiculous, if Patchett had not created such credible characters and a dreamlike milieu in which anything seems possible. Nail-biting action scenes include a young boy's near-mortal crushing by a 15-foot anaconda, whose head Marina lops off with a machete; they're balanced by contemplative moments that give this gripping novel spiritual and metaphysical depth, right down to the final startling plot twist.

Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures—even better than Patchett's breakthroughBel Canto(2001).

Ron Charles
…another dazzling work. As gripping as it is thoughtful, it burns with the low-level fever of Heart of Darkness, but its most febrile moments soar into the creepiness of The Island of Doctor Moreau…Loaded as the story is with profound ethical issues, Patchett also knows when to pack light to keep the adventure moving…This is surely the smartest, most exciting novel of the summer.
—The Washington Post
Fernanda Eberstadt
…an engaging, consummately told tale. Patchett's deadpan narrative style showcases a dry humor that enables her to wed, with fine effect, the world of Avatar or the Odyssey with that of corporate board meetings, R&D reports and peer review. This unlikely marriage of the magical and the prosaic, of poison-tipped arrows and Fourth of July barbecues, informs every line of her prose…And if she succeeds in domesticating the exotic, Patchett's even greater gift is in defamiliarizing the homey, giving suburban housewives and Minnesota flatlands the aching beauty and primal force of elements found in a creation myth.
—The New York Times
O: the Oprah Magazine
“The large canvas of sweeping moral issues, both personal and global, comes to life through careful attention to details, however seemingly mundane—from ill-fitting shoes and mosquito bites to a woman tenderly braiding another woman’s hair.”
Boston Globe
“Extraordinary. . . . Is there nothing the prodigiously talented Ann Patchett can’t do? . . . Patchett’s last knockout pages proceed full-speed ahead, with more twists and turns and trachery than the Amazon River. Nothing is as it seems, and the ending is as shocking as it’s satisfying.”
No Source
“A thrilling new novel. . . . The world imagined in this novel is unusually vivid. . . . Reading State of Wonder is a sensory experience, and even after it’s over you’ll keep hearing the sounds of insects, and your own head will still be hot.”
Elle
“Outlandishly entertaining…[with] a brilliantly constructed plot.”
MORE Magazine
“A thrilling new novel. . . . The world imagined in this novel is unusually vivid. . . . Reading State of Wonder is a sensory experience, and even after it’s over you’ll keep hearing the sounds of insects, and your own head will still be hot.”
Shelf Awareness
“Patchett makes the jungle jump off the page…This is Patchett’s best effort since The Patron Saint of Liars and, yes, that includes Bel Canto
Washington Post
“This is surely the smartest, most exciting novel of the summer.”
Elle
“Outlandishly entertaining…[with] a brilliantly constructed plot.”
New York Times
“An engaging, consummately told tale.”
Wall Street Journal
“Packs a textbook’s worth of ethical conundrums into a smart and tidily delivered story. . . . Ms. Patchett presents an alluring interplay between civilization and wilderness, between aid and exploitation.”
NPR
“The Amazon setting is something Patchett does rather marvelously.… The book is serious, but also so pleasurable that you hope it won’t end.”
The New Yorker
“Emotionally lucid. . . . Patchett is at her lyrical best when she catalogues the jungle.”
the Oprah Magazine O
“The large canvas of sweeping moral issues, both personal and global, comes to life through careful attention to details, however seemingly mundane—from ill-fitting shoes and mosquito bites to a woman tenderly braiding another woman’s hair.”
Library Journal
08/01/2014
Deep in the Amazon jungle, a research scientist confronts her past and her own mortality, with life-altering consequences. Narrated by Hope Davis. (LJ 10/1/11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062049803
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 542,427
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is the author of five novels, including Bel Canto (winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize), and the bestselling nonfiction book, Truth & Beauty. She has written for The Atlantic, Harper's, Gourmet, the New York Times Magazine, Vogue, and the Washington Post. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Biography

Ann Patchett was born in Los Angeles but raised in Nashville, Tennessee. While at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, she studied with such notable authors as Russell Banks and Grace Paley before getting her first short works published. She labored long and hard in the trenches of Seventeen magazine (where her talents went largely unrecognized), before striking gold with her ambitious first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars, which was named a New York Times Notable Book of 1992 and subsequently made into a major motion picture.

Since her auspicious debut, Patchett has crafted a handful of elegant novels, garnering several accolades and awards along the way. But her real breakthrough occurred with 2001's Bel Canto, a taut, psychological thriller set in the claustrophobic confines of an embassy under siege in South America. Winning both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize, Bel Canto catapulted Patchett into the ranks of bestselling authors.

As if to prove her versatility, Patchett departed from fiction for 2004's Truth & Beauty, the heartbreaking account of her longstanding, difficult friendship with the late Lucy Grealy, a gifted writer whose disfigurement from cancer precipitated a tragic descent into addiction and death. This memoir won several literary awards and appeared on many end-of-year best books lists.

Success breeds success; and with each book, Patchett's reputation grows. Perhaps the secret to her popularity has been captured best by Patchett's friend, Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler. "She is a genius of the human condition," he says. "I can't think of many other writers, ever, who get anywhere near her ability to comprehend the vastness and diversity of humanity, and to articulate our deepest heart."

Good To Know

In 1997, The Patron Saint of Liars was adapted into a TV movie, and Patchett also helped to write the screenplay for Taft, which was optioned by actor Morgan Freeman for a feature film.

Patchett knew absolutely nothing about opera before writing Bel Canto; she began her research with Fred Plotkin's book Opera 101.

In our interview, Patchett shared some fascinating facts about herself:

"I've never had a television."

"I brush my dog's teeth every morning."

"I got a pig for my ninth birthday and haven't eaten red meat since."

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    1. Hometown:
      Nashville, Tennessee
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 2, 1963
    2. Place of Birth:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Education:
      B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1985; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1987
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

State of Wonder


By Ann Patchett

HarperCollins

Copyright © 2011 Ann Patchett
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-204980-3


Chapter One

The news of Anders Eckman's death came by way of Aerogram,
a piece of bright blue airmail paper that served as both the
stationery and, when folded over and sealed along the edges, the en-
velope. Who even knew they still made such things? This single sheet
had traveled from Brazil to Minnesota to mark the passing of a man, a
breath of tissue so insubstantial that only the stamp seemed to anchor
it to this world. Mr. Fox had the letter in his hand when he came to the
lab to tell Marina the news. When she saw him there at the door she
smiled at him and in the light of that smile he faltered.
"What?" she said finally.
He opened his mouth and then closed it. When he tried again all
he could say was, "It's snowing."
"I heard on the radio it was going to." The window in the lab where
she worked faced out into the hall and so she never saw the weather
until lunchtime. She waited for a minute for Mr. Fox to say what he
had come to say. She didn't think he had come all the way from his
office in the snow, a good ten buildings away, to give her a weather
report, but he only stood there in the frame of the open door, unable
either to enter the room or step out of it. "Are you all right?"
"Eckman's dead," he managed to say before his voice broke, and
then with no more explanation he gave her the letter to show just how
little about this awful fact he knew.
There were more than thirty buildings on the Vogel campus, labs
and office buildings of various sizes and functions. There were
labs with stations for twenty technicians and scientists to work at the
same time. Others had walls and walls of mice or monkeys or dogs. This
particular lab Marina had shared for seven years with Dr. Eckman. It
was small enough that all Mr. Fox had to do was reach a hand towards
her, and when he did she took the letter from him and sat down slowly
in the gray plastic chair beside the separator. At that moment she un-
derstood why people say You might want to sit down. There was inside of
her a very modest physical collapse, not a faint but a sort of folding, as
if she were an extension ruler and her ankles and knees and hips were
all being brought together at closer angles. Anders Eckman, tall in his
white lab coat, his hair a thick graying blond. Anders bringing her a
cup of coffee because he'd picked one up for himself. Anders giving
her the files she'd asked for, half sitting down on the edge of her desk
while he went over her data on proteins. Anders father of three. Anders
not yet fifty. Her eyes went to the dates—March 15th on the letter,
March 18th on the postmark, and today was April 1st. Not only was
he dead, he was two weeks dead. They had accepted the fact that they
wouldn't hear from him often and now she realized he had been gone
so long that at times he would slip from her mind for most of a day.
The obscurity of the Amazonian tributary where Dr. Swenson did her
research had been repeatedly underscored to the folks back in Minne-
sota (Tomorrow this letter will be handed over to a child floating downriver in a dugout
log, Anders had written her. I cannot call it a canoe. There never were statistics
written to cover the probability of its arrival.), but still, it was in a country, it
was in the world. Surely someone down there had an Internet connec-
tion. Had they never bothered to find it? "Wouldn't she call you? There
has to be some sort of global satellite—"
"She won't use the phone, or she says it doesn't work there." As
close as they were in this quiet room she could scarcely hear his voice.
"But for this—" She stopped herself. He didn't know. "Where is he
now?" Marina asked. She could not bring herself to say his body. Anders
was not a body. Vogel was full of doctors, doctors working, doctors
in their offices drinking coffee. The cabinets and storage rooms and
desk drawers were full of drugs, pills of every conceivable stripe. They
were a pharmaceutical company; what they didn't have they figured
out how to make. Surely if they knew where he was they could find
something to do for him, and with that thought her desire for the im-
possible eclipsed every piece of science she had ever known. The dead
were dead were dead were dead and still Marina Singh did not have to
shut her eyes to see Anders Eckman eating an egg salad sandwich in
the employee cafeteria as he had done with great enthusiasm every day
she had known him.
"Don't you read the reports on cholesterol?" she would ask, always
willing to play the straight man.
"I write the reports on cholesterol," Anders said, running his finger
around the edge of his plate.
Mr. Fox lifted his glasses, pressed his folded handkerchief against
the corners of his eyes. "Read the letter," he said.
She did not read it aloud.
Jim Fox,
The rain has been torrential here, not unseasonable yet year after year it
never ceases to surprise me. It does not change our work except to make it more
time-consuming and if we have been slowed we have not been deterred. We
move steadily towards the same excellent results.
But for now this business is not our primary concern. I write with
unfortunate news of Dr. Eckman, who died of a fever two nights ago. Given
our location, this rain, the petty bureaucracies of government (both this one
and your own), and the time sensitive nature of our project, we chose to bury
him here in a manner in keeping with his Christian traditions. I must tell you
it was no small task. As for the purpose of Dr. Eckman's mission, I assure
you we are making strides. I will keep what little he had here for his wife, to
whom I trust you will extend this news along with my sympathy. Despite any
setbacks, we persevere.
Annick Swenson
Marina started over at the top. When she had read it through
again she still could not imagine what to say. "Is she calling Anders
a setback?"
She held the letter by its slightest edges as if it were a document still
to be submitted into evidence. Clearly the paper had been wet at some
point and then dried again. She could tell by the way it was puckered
in places, it had been carried out in the rain. Dr. Swenson knew all
about the relationship of paper and ink and rain and so she cut in her
letters with a pencil of hard, dark lead, while on the other side of Eden
Prairie, Minnesota, Karen Eckman sat in a two-story brick colonial
thinking her husband was in Brazil and would be coming home as
soon as he could make Dr. Swenson listen to reason.
Marina looked at the clock. They should go soon, before it was
time for Karen to pick the children up from school. Every now and
then, if Anders happened to look at his watch at two-thirty, he would
say to himself in a quiet voice, School's out. Three little Eckmans, three
boys, who, like their mother, did not know enough to picture their
father dead. For all that loss Dr. Swenson had managed to use just
over half the sheet of paper, and in the half a sheet she used she had
twice thought to mention the weather. The rest of it simply sat there,
a great blue sea of emptiness. How much could have been said in
those remaining inches, how much explained, was beyond scientific
measure.
Mr. Fox closed the door and came to stand beside Marina's chair.
He put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed, and because the blinds
on the windows that faced the hall were down she dropped her cheek
against the top of his hand and for a while they stayed like this, washed
over in the palest blue fluorescent light. It was a comfort to them both.
Mr. Fox and Marina had never discussed how they would conduct
their relationship at work. They had no relationship at work, or not
one that was different from anyone else's. Mr. Fox was the CEO of
Vogel. Marina was a doctor who worked in statin development. They
had met, really met, for the first time late the summer before at a com-
pany softball game, doctors vs. administration. Mr. Fox came over to
compliment her pitching, and that compliment led to a discussion of
their mutual fondness for baseball. Mr. Fox was not a doctor. He had
been the first CEO to come from the manufacturing side. When she
spoke of him to other people she spoke of Mr. Fox. When she spoke to
him in front of other people she addressed him as Mr. Fox. The prob-
lem was calling him Jim when they were alone. That, it turned out, was
a much more difficult habit to adopt.
"I shouldn't have sent him," Mr. Fox said.
She raised her head then and took his hand in her hands. Mr. Fox
had no reason to wear a lab coat. Today he wore a dark gray suit and
striped navy tie, and while it was a dignified uniform for a man of sixty,
he looked out of place whenever he strayed from the administrative
offices. Today it occurred to Marina that he looked like he was on his
way to a funeral. "You didn't make him go."
"I asked him to go. I suppose he could have turned me down but it
wasn't very likely."
"But you never thought something like this would happen. You
didn't send him someplace dangerous." Marina wondered if she knew
this to be true. Of course there were poisonous snakes and razor-
toothed fish but she pictured them safely away from the places where
doctors conducted scientific research. Anyway, the letter had said he
died of a fever, not a snake bite. There were plenty of fevers to be had
right here in Minnesota. "Dr. Swenson's been down there for five years
now. Nothing's happened to her."
"It wouldn't happen to her," Mr. Fox said without kindness in his voice.
Anders had wanted to go to the Amazon. That was the truth.
What are the chances a doctor who worked in statin development
would be asked to go to Brazil just as winter was becoming unendur-
able? He was a serious birder. Every summer he put the boys in a canoe
and paddled them through the Boundary Waters with binoculars and
notepads looking for ruddy ducks and pileated woodpeckers. The first
thing he did when he got word about the trip was order field guides to
the rain forest, and when they came he abandoned all pretense of work.
He put the blood samples back in the refrigerator and pored over the
slick, heavy pages of the guides. He showed Marina the birds he hoped
to see, wattled jacanas with toes as long as his hand, guira cuckoos
with downy scrub brushes attached to the tops of their heads. A person
could wash out the inside of a pickle jar with such a bird. He bought a
new camera with a lens that could zoom straight into a nest from fifty
feet away. It was not the kind of luxury Anders would have afforded
himself under normal circumstances.
"But these are not normal circumstances," he said, and took a pic-
ture of his coworker at her desk.
At the bright burst of the flash, Marina raised her head from a
black-necked red cotinga, a bird the size of a thumb who lived in
a cone-shaped daub of mud attached to the tip of a leaf. "It's an
ambitious lot of birds." She studied every picture carefully, mar-
veling at the splendors of biodiversity. When she saw the hyacinth
macaws she experienced one split second of regret that she wasn't the
one Mr. Fox had tapped for the job. It was a singularly ridiculous
thought. "You'll be too busy with birds to ever find the time to talk
to Dr. Swenson."
"I imagine I'll find a lot of birds before I find Dr. Swenson, and
when I do find her I doubt she'll pack up on the first day and rush
back to Johns Hopkins. These things take finesse. Mr. Fox said that
himself. That leaves me with a lot of daylight hours."
Finding Dr. Swenson was an issue. There was an address in Manaus
but apparently it was nowhere near the station where she did her field
research; that location, she believed, needed to be protected with the
highest level of secrecy in order to preserve both the unspoiled nature
of her subjects and the value of the drug she was developing. She had
made the case so convincingly that not even Mr. Fox knew where she
was exactly, other than somewhere on a tributary off the Rio Negro.
How far away from Manaus that tributary might begin and in which
direction it ran no one could say. Worse than that was the sense that
finding her was going to be the easy part. Marina looked at Anders
straight on and again he raised his camera. "Stop that," she said,
and turned her palm to the lens. "What if you can't get her to come
back at all?"
"Of course I can," Anders said. "She likes me. Why do you think
I'm the one Mr. Fox decided to send?"
It was possible that Dr. Swenson had liked him on the one day she
spent at Vogel seven years ago, when she had sat at a conference table
with Anders and four other doctors and five executives who made up
the Probability Assessment Group to discuss the preliminary budget
for the development of a program in Brazil. Marina could have told
him Dr. Swenson had no idea who he was, but why would she have said
that? Surely he knew.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from State of Wonder by Ann Patchett Copyright © 2011 by Ann Patchett. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Posted June 14, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Magnificent!

    Great atmosphere and entertaining, the story moves without pause and is never boring. Loaded with tension and sense of foreboding, there are several places that were truly hard to read. The story surged forward with unpredictable twists and turns and kept me engrossed right up to the last page. Marina is a research doctor in Minnesota. A teammate, Anders, dies in the jungles of the Amazon. For some reason, her employer and secret lover, Mr. Fox, wants Marina to seek out the truth about Anders' death. She couldn't understand, why her? She has no skills in the area and knows little about the project in the Amazon. She and Anders were working together on a cholesterol drug. After getting together with Anders' grieving wife and sons, Marina feels it her duty to make the journey, even though she will once again meet her stern mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson. Swenson knows things about Marina that Marina wants to forget. Marina Singh's real exploration is her discovery of other people and of herself. This is another excellent Patchett work that will not be able to tear yourself away from.

    39 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    Best Book I've Read All Year!

    I'm such a sucker for a well-written book that makes me think, and this book was all of that and then some. Read the synopsis and it sounds like a book about doctors and the Amazon and ethics; and it is. But to me, the central theme of the story is about mentors. How is it possible that our mentors and teachers keep us under their spell and eager for their approval for years after we've grown up? Or for years after we've known them for the imperfect humans they really are? Where does that pull come from? In this story, nearly every person has a mentor they are trying to understand or trying to cover for or trying to earn praise from, then I found myself falling under their spells, too. This was a very intriguing book and I recommend it to absolutely anyone who loves to read books several times to find something different each time.

    21 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Couldn't put it down!

    I am truly surprised by the 3 star rating on this book because I couldn't put it down! It really annoyed my family. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much!

    21 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Read

    I loved reading this wonderful book! It has a story that keeps you entertained for hours.

    17 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2011

    One of the worst books I have ever read!

    If it was not a selection for my book club I would never have finished this book. The story is ridiculous, characters are mostly whiny and self-centered and the writing is unexceptional. Do not understand why other readers found the story so exciting. I couldn't wait for it to end. I also find it interesting that Ann Patchett never mentions where she found her information about the Amazon or the tribes that might inhabit it. If you want to read an exciting and incredibly interesting story about the Amazon, read River of Doubt.

    12 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I LOVED IT AND HATED IT

    I fell in love with this book. I love Ann Patchett, Bel Canto was a masterpiece, and so was this book until the very end. I really thought the ending would be totally different and it disappointed me. I actually went back and read the ending twice just to see if I was missing something, but alas, there wasn't. Still a wonderful book and I would recommend it just for atmosphere alone.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    Highly Recommend

    Who knew a research scientist, the amazon, anaconda's, cannibals and a mysterious "fertility" drug would be that interesting! Read this book over the weekend and I just couldn't put it down. The critics were right when they praised this book.

    11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2011

    Another great work!

    This book holds up to Ms. Patchett's high standards of acute observation of human nature. She presents ethical and moral dilemmas through the thoughts and actions of her characters. Life is never "black and white" in her stories. This story, as did "Bel Canto", repeatedly raises the question of what is the "right" thing to do. Do circumstances affect what is "right"? There are no easy answers, but we readers are improved by contemplating the questions.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    Awesome book!!!

    Loved this book, my first by this author and it won' t be my last. I felt like I was right there along with Marina in Brazil trying to find Anders!! When she talked about how hot it was and how many bugs there were I truly started to get hot and my skin started to crawl. You will feel like you are part of this story!!!!

    10 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 4, 2011

    Please read Time's review in the June 13 edition.

    Time calls it repro madness, Ann Patchett's thriller imagines a utopia of fertility.

    10 out of 68 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2011

    It was just ok Just ok

    If you like slow books,this is the book for you. I was never on the edge of my seat with this read. I honestly fell asleep several times while reading it. This was my first time reading her book and I was pretty much a snooze fest. I will say it was well written but Iam not sure if I would be willing to try a book from her again.

    8 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2011

    It'll do but I hope future books are better

    The story was interesting and thought provoking. I think the ending was rushed ....actually the whole book was rushed. I could have stood more content and character development. Not sorry I read it but it really could have been better.

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 12, 2011

    Ten+Stars%21%21

    This+is+truly+one+of+those+books+you+read+every+word%21+Hope+that+she+keeps+writing+books+like+these.

    8 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2012

    Plod plod plod along

    This was a hard read becaue the story moved so slowly. Nothing feels exciting. Everything that should have had you on the edge of your seat was like, meh. Hated most of the book especially the ending! Ridiculous!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 30, 2011

    I Wonder Why Anyone Liked This Book!

    Hard to give this book even one star. Even the author got bored with this story and rushed to finish it in the last ten pages. Implausible story with an ending that puts the main characters to shame. The positive reviews must have been written by the author's friends and editor. Bought this as an ebook - money and time wasted - can I get a refund?

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2011

    Great book but not my favorite Ann Patchett

    I've read everything she has written so was eager to try this one as soon as I could get it. Well written, original story as I'd expect. I did think some of the storyline could have been more developed, and I finished wishing there had been more of a wrap up. Overall, this book does not disappoint, though there is less danger and intrigue than the reviews I initially read led me to expect.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    WHY!?

    Why was this book on so many of my recommendation lists? it seemed like every where i looked this book came up as one of the best books of the year. I even read some really good reviews. So why I ask. For starters there is nothing about the writing that jumped out at me as beautiful. Then there were the characters themselves who were poorly developed. I couldnt bring myself to like any of them. I will not lie, i did not even finish this book. Maybe it is the ending that makes this story great but ive read two thirds of it and im bored to death! It drags on and on! My advice, get it from the library first before you buy it. Truly a dissapointing book!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    Wanted more

    This was a good book, but I was not satisfied with the ending It didn't seem to follow with what I thouht the characters were like

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2012

    Left hanging

    I struggled with this book, my wife as well! It left me hanging at the end. I would not reccomend it to anyone

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2011

    Just OK

    The writing was beautiful, but the story didn't really live up to its potential. The ending was a disappointment.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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