State of Wonder

People have been telling me to read Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder for a really long time. I tried to get it from the library a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t there. I went to my friend’s place for wine last week and she had a copy that she offered to me.

I should point out that this particular copy was taken on a camping trip and has, for sure, seen better days. But considering that 80% of the book takes place in the Amazon, the warped pages added to the book’s charm.

Dr. Marina Singh is at work in a lab in Minnesota when her boss (and lover) brings her news that her colleague and friend, Anders Eckman, has died in Brazil. He was there following up on the progress of a possible fertility drug in production and caught a fever and died. When Anders’ wife doesn’t believe that he is dead, Marina agrees to go down there and see if she can find out more about what happened.

This wonder drug is being developed by Dr. Annick Swenson, a former teacher of Marina’s and by all accounts, a difficult person to work with. She refuses to update the company on the progress of the drug and is virtually impossible to find. She has gatekeepers in place, the Bovenders, who’s job it is to keep any unwanted attention away from the research.

Marina eventually finds her and puts herself at great personal risk when she tags along back into the jungle. This whole time Dr. Swenson has been studying a tribe of people where the women can get pregnant well into their 70s. She has set herself up as a kind of ruler, dominating the people she has come to study.

I really like Patchett’s style of writing. There is something very addictive about her books- I sat and polished this one off in a day. I was kind of sorry that we never chose this book for our book club because I feel like there was a lot in the book worthy of discussion. The whole idea of women being able to have children well into their 70s and 80s alone would have been enough for more than one book club session! I was totally on board with this entire book until the very end.

I did not like the ending. Partly because a portion of the ending was so heart breaking that I almost couldn’t even handle it. Partly because I felt that Marina’s actions at the end were completely unnecessary. Mostly because I had an idea of these characters and at the moment when they were most tested, they completely failed to live up to those ideas.

Curious? If you’ve read it, I would love to discuss this with you! If you haven’t, then you  should so we can talk!

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