Thursday, 26 November 2015

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

State of Wonder is one of those books that seem to have everything: an original and at times jaw-dropping storyline, an engaging and bewildered heroine, sharp and witty prose plus plenty to make you stop and think about - I was in a state of wonder at its cleverness.

When Anders Eckman dies of fever in the Amazonian jungle the details of his death are scantily noted on an Aerogram sent to his employer at Vogel pharmaceuticals. Is maverick scientist, Annick Swenson, who has been using up a ton of Vogel capital on her own research project, hiding something?

Anders’s colleague, Marina Singh, the narrator of the story, makes the journey to Manaus to track down Dr Swenson and discover the truth. She has her own murky past involving Dr Swenson, is reluctant to leave Minnesota, loses her luggage and has to cope with nightmares caused by the anti-malarial drugs she takes.

In the Amazon tributary where Dr Swenson conducts her research, Marina will face a raft of new challenges, including encounters with anacondas, poison arrow shooting tribesmen as well as winning the confidence of Dr Swenson, before she finds out what really happened to Eckman. The research Swenson is undertaking also creates some startling plot twists.

Marina is a complex but likeable character, Swenson a terse and difficult colleague and the Amazonian tribespeople as mischievous as they are mysterious.The possibility of a wonder drug throws up some interesting moral dilemmas, while Marina has her own emotions to navigate. State of Wonder is a rich, amusing, vastly entertaining and intelligent novel. I enjoyed this book so much I was sorry to finish it - one of my top reads for 2015.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue links (print copy): State of Wonder

Ebook: State of Wonder

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