Saturday, November 19, 2011

“Tasting what could have been—what should have been—didn't make it easier.” ~ Kele Moon, Beyond Eden

This month, our book group has selected "State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett.  This is the second of her books that we have read, the other being "Bel Canto".  I have also read "Run" outside of group.  I read "State of Wonder" shortly after it came out this summer - the library had a copy on hand, which does not often happen with a new release. 

A brief synopsis of the story - ripped from Amazon:
"Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug, the development of which has already cost the company a fortune. Nothing about Marina's assignment is easy: not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marina's research partner Anders Eckman, died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding her former mentor as well as answers to several troubling questions about her friend's death, the state of her company's future, and her own past."

I must say that I loved "State of Wonder".   I will admit the need to suspend reality a bit, but I usually do not have a problem with that!  I will not pretend to be a book reviewer here - just someone who likes to read, and likes to let others know what I like!  This story contains some very contemporary issues, wrapped up in an intriguing  mystery.  It hits upon:

  • women's reproductive rights
  • the increased incidence of women past menopause who are becoming pregnant and giving birth
  • the role of pharmaceuticals in what makes it into the public arena and at what cost
  • a woman's "biological clock"
  • how the past may not haunt us in exactly the way we anticipate
Additionally, you have the protagonist, Marina, who travels from Eden Prairie, Minnesota to the deep Amazon to enter a world that contains its own kind of "forbidden (or perhaps bidden) fruit".  Without giving anything away, the ending is made for Hollywood.  

Most of the reviews that I have read are quite favorable, though not all.  I believe that this is a worthy read, as are the other two of hers that I have enjoyed.  Below is a brief interview with Ann Patchett specifically talking about "A State of Wonder".

I loved both of these books as well.  It's interesting the things that you pick up.  In "Run", published in 2007, there is reference to a campaign sign hanging in a window that says "Obama - 2012".  "Bel Canto" is set in Peru.  A fascinating story - I found it gripping from beginning to end. Our book group has a member from Peru, and she shed light upon the fact the the incident in the story is a fictionalized account of something that actually occurred.  Her first hand experience brought a wholly different perspective to the story that we had read.  I am continually amazed at how much I really do not know.  I guess that that is a good thing - it encourages the desire to learn.


  1. I am always on the look for a good book. I will check it out. Clarice

  2. I enjoyed listening to Ann Patchett speak about her process, as well as what she hopes for readers of this particular book. And may I say, YOU encourage the desire to learn.