State Of Wonder

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State Of Wonder

by Ann Patchett

HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS | April 21, 2011 | Trade Paperback

State Of Wonder is rated 3.875 out of 5 by 16.

Ann Patchett has dazzled readers with her award-winning books, including The Magician''s Assistant and the New York Times bestselling Bel Canto. Now she raises the bar with State of Wonder, a provocative and ambitious novel set deep in the Amazon jungle.

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.

Once found, Dr. Swenson, now in her seventies, is as ruthless and uncompromising as she ever was back in the days of Grand Rounds at Johns Hopkins. With a combination of science and subterfuge, she dominates her research team and the natives she is studying with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices to be made are the ones Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she may still be unable to live up to her teacher''s expectations.

In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and a neighboring tribe of cannibals, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss. It is a tale that leads the reader into the very heart of darkness, and then shows us what lies on the other side.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 9.25 × 6.25 × 0.96 in

Published: April 21, 2011

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0062074717

ISBN - 13: 9780062074713

Found in: Fiction and Literature
Ann Patchett has dazzled readers with her award-winning books, including The Magician's Assistant and the New York Times bestselling Bel Canto. Now she raises the bar with State of Wonder, a provocative and ambitious novel set deep in the Amazon jungle. 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. Once found, Dr. Swenson, now in her seventies, is as ruthless and uncompromising as she ever was back in the days of Grand Rounds at Johns Hopkins. With a combination of science and subterfuge, she dominates her research team and the natives she is studying with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices to be made are the ones Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she may still be unable to live up to her teacher's expectations. In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and a neighboring tribe of cannibals, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss. It is a tale that leads the reader into the very heart of darkness, and then shows us what lies on the other side. (From jacket copy)

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! Amazing. So obsessively fascinating that I read it in one day. A riveting story of tragedies and victories, modern technology and primitive jungle, remote tribes, insects, snakes! and the extremity of emotion and spirit and physical demand that goes into being human. So many memorable phrases and passages...P. 60: "Naïveté may be the bedrock of reproduction, the lynchpin for the survival of the species."P. 179: "The question is whether or not you choose to disturb the world around you, or if you choose to let it go on as if you had never arrived."P. 271: "Never be so focused on what you're looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find."
Date published: 2013-12-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not a state of wonder Dr. Annick Swenson, who is studying the indigenous Lakashi and their ability to conceive children at any age has been very lax in sending her progress reports into head office. Anders Eckman is sent to the reclusive Swenson and word is sent back that he has died. Marina is sent by her boss and lover, Jim Fox, to both discover the exact cause of Eckman's death and oversee the progress of brilliant Dr. Annick Swanson What Marina goes through to to get to see Swenson and then to follow up on what is going on in the rainforest is miracluous. This book was not a state of wonder for me. It was just too much! Impossible scenerarios abound! I love Patchett's other books but somehow just didn't connect with the characters or the story. I did not see any of the twists and they were different but at the time I think I was out of the imagination required to keep the story going.
Date published: 2013-08-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Book club recommendation An excellent tale of one woman's supposed search for her colleague only to find herself instead. And as she sheds her old life, she comes to understand the world around her in so many unique and different ways. This book made me think of "The Poisonwood Bible".
Date published: 2013-06-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing I bought this book because it was a "Heather's Pick" and I have always loved her choices that I've read. I finally decided to read the book because one of my good friends read it and loved it. I was very disappointed. I found the story was extremely slow, and didn't really get too far. In fact, I thought it to be almost unbearbly boring until about the last 100 pages, and even then it wasn't much more interesting. I couldn't stand any of the characters, with exception to Milton, the man who helps Marina get around when she makes it to Brazil. I honestly had a hard time making it through this book, and told my husband continuously that I wanted to give up on it. I held out hope and endured until the end. Though the ending was not disappointing it definitely was not worth the journey. It is rare for me to not finish a book; I think had my friend not loved this book so much, and had it not been so highly praised, I would have given up hope for some sort of entertainment (and saved myself the hours it took to read this.) But that's just me, maybe I am missing something most others seem to have picked up on and enjoyed.
Date published: 2013-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully descriptive This author made me believe I was in the jungle. I loved the story and the exotic setting. However, the best part of this book is that all the major characters are female. They are all smart, brave women embracing life. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2012-09-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mixed feelings This is the first Ann Patchett book I've read and was really looking forward to it. I'm not so sure how I feel now after reading the book. It left me with quite a few mixed emtions. There were aspects of the book that I really enjoyed, mostly the jungle exploration, but there were some parts of the story that just didn't sit all that well. Mainly the events that occur in the last quarter of the story. I had been hoping for more of a conclusion as well, but that's probably just personal preference. Found the book a bit slow going at first, but it picked up about halfway through. Didn't really enjoy the banter between the doctors. Overall I didn't hate it but I wouldn't go out of my way to suggest it to anyone. Still going to give another of her books a try and hope for the best.
Date published: 2012-08-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Limited Appeal This book is well written, has an interesting story line, but there are flaws - something just doesn't ring true for me with the main character, but those surrounding her and the plot keep you reading. The book is not very universal in appeal - probably be of interest mostly for women 35 and older as many will be able to relate and bond with the character and her personal struggle.
Date published: 2012-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Boring I found this to be a very boring read and very difficult to finish.
Date published: 2012-01-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Was not my fav! I was going to give this book 2 stars but decided against it and gave it 3. Let me tell you. This was a very boring book. Absolutely nothing happened in it. The main character, Melanie, goes to the Amazon after receiving a letter from her previous mentor, Dr. Annik Swenson, saying that her coworker, Anders Eckman, who was currently in the Amazon has died. Melanie is so upset and when she tells Anders' wife that he is dead she doesn't believe Melanie and asks her to find out what happened since Dr. Swenson said that they buried him in the Amazon. Melanie, after days of struggling, finds her mentor Dr. Swenson and helps out in the study of the Lakshi people who eat a special bark right off the tree and can have kids until they are on their dying bed. By eating the bark it also gives them immunity to malaria. Melanie finds out that Dr. Swenson is pregnant and delivers her baby for her. It is pretty much the same thing over and over again. Malaria, bark, mushrooms, babies, Lakshi people. I don't know. I need excitement in my books and this just didn't do it for me. I will give the author credit and say that it was written beautifully and that I could picture myself in their boat as they rowed through the Amazon, but other than that the book was dull. I didn't like the ending either. I won't spoil it but giving up people in return for other people doesn’t go well for me and the sex scene turned me off as well. The whole action didn't turn me off; it was the people who were doing it. I would say, read it to find out, but I wouldn't want to bore you. That's all.
Date published: 2011-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A woman's journey into the unknown... This novel is quite engrossing from the very first page to the very last. It concerns a 40-something researcher who is called upon by her boss (and lover) to investigate the mysterious death of a co-worker who had been sent to the Amazon. The reason for this initial expedition was to check on the research being done by a very reclusive but brilliant doctor. This same doctor used to be our heroine's teacher and mentor back in her university days and this definitely adds a feel of oppression and anxiety. It all sounds very much like "Heart of Darkness" and it does have that feel but it also is very modern in its character development. There is no real sense of evil within the plot but you are kept wondering as to what is really going on in the dense rainforest. When you find out, you won't be disappointed. All of the characters in the book are charismatic and memorable and you will warm up to them quite quickly. This novel is very suspenseful and 400+ pages will just fly right by. Definitely worth a read.
Date published: 2011-11-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Deliciously slow building tale I've had numerous friends and patrons tell me that I must read Ann Patchett. There's been so much buzz around her latest book, State of Wonder, that I took advantage of an opportunity to listen to it in audio book format. Dr. Annick Swenson has been working in the deepest jungles of Brazil for over 30 years, following in her former professor's footsteps. They have found an Amazonian tribe whose women give birth as late as their seventies. Drug company Vogel has been financing this venture for many years. Dr. Swenson rarely responds to Vogel's requests for updates. So Vogel sends down one of it's own - Dr. Eckman - to get answers. And then another - Dr. Marina Singh - to find the first. I could go on and on about the plot - but's it's enough to get you to the Amazon and have an idea. Any more would be a spoiler. Sometimes literary fiction can become too self absorbed for me and feel like a bit of a slog. Not so in this case. I had no idea where Patchett was going to go next with the story - I found myself sitting in my driveway in the dark to finish a disc. (I'd been listening on the way back and forth from work) The settings came to life - the heat, the insects, the lush and overpowering jungle. Patchett's writing is lush as well. I was truly glad I listened to this book. I don't think I would have become as invested in the story in the written form. Patchett's prose are beautiful, but the reader - Hope Davis - was phenomenal and brought Patchett's words to life. Her voice suited the character of Dr. Singh, expressing her emotions and thoughts perfectly. Davis's voice is rich and well modulated, always evenly paced. She depicted all of the characters very easily with her voice. Dr. Swenson's clipped tones and the Aussie character's accents were spot on. Lots of themes populate State of Wonder - self discovery, western vs. third world countries, hope, love and more. There will be inevitable comparsons to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I really enjoyed State of Wonder and can see why Patchett has such fervent fans. I would have given this a five star rating, but the ending left me a feeling somewhat unsatisfied and cheated. It seemed to happen in a rush after such a deliberate slow building story. I found myself wanting to know what happened 'after'. Although this could be a good thing as well - an author who leaves you wanting more.
Date published: 2011-09-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wonderfully Average I have read two other books.... Bel Canto and Run. I would have to say that I enjoyed Bel Canto much more than I did State of Wonder. While I related tremondously to many aspects of this novel (3rd world living, malaria, anti-malarial medications and the effects)... I felt that the ending of the novel did not do it justice. I feel like there was a lot of build up during the novel and she didnt follow through with the ending. It was still a nice read and the story developed quite beautifully. I felt it was very ambitious and perhaps could have had a more robust ending.
Date published: 2011-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wondrous about this amazing book This is one of the best books I have read in years, and Patchett's best since Bel Canto. She has such an amazing gift with interpersonal relationships and her description of people's most intimate thoughts is constantly shocking yet correct. Great plot, interesting all along. Well recommended for both men and women.
Date published: 2011-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Ann Patchett has dazzled readers with her award-winning books, including The Magician's Assistant and the New York Times bestselling Bel Canto. Now she raises the bar with State of Wonder, a provocative and ambitious novel set deep in the Amazon jungle. 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. Once found, Dr. Swenson, now in her seventies, is as ruthless and uncompromising as she ever was back in the days of Grand Rounds at Johns Hopkins. With a combination of science and subterfuge, she dominates her research team and the natives she is studying with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices to be made are the ones Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she may still be unable to live up to her teacher's expectations. In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and a neighboring tribe of cannibals, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss. It is a tale that leads the reader into the very heart of darkness, and then shows us what lies on the other side. (From jacket copy)
Date published: 2011-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book! This is the best book I've read in a while....and I read quite a few books. Her character development is very good. I found myself chuckling to myself as I read because I could really picture the quirky characters.
Date published: 2011-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Cherished Favourite! I believe this book deserves more than it's 3 stars in Chapters rating. Although slow at the beginning with the impression that the author is spending much too long on mundane relationships, by the middle of the book it begins enticing you and the last 1/3 of the book is better than many books I have ever read. I actually cried near the end and it will be a book I will not forget!
Date published: 2011-07-01

– More About This Product –

State Of Wonder

by Ann Patchett

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 9.25 × 6.25 × 0.96 in

Published: April 21, 2011

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0062074717

ISBN - 13: 9780062074713

From the Publisher

Ann Patchett has dazzled readers with her award-winning books, including The Magician''s Assistant and the New York Times bestselling Bel Canto. Now she raises the bar with State of Wonder, a provocative and ambitious novel set deep in the Amazon jungle.

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.

Once found, Dr. Swenson, now in her seventies, is as ruthless and uncompromising as she ever was back in the days of Grand Rounds at Johns Hopkins. With a combination of science and subterfuge, she dominates her research team and the natives she is studying with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices to be made are the ones Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she may still be unable to live up to her teacher''s expectations.

In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and a neighboring tribe of cannibals, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss. It is a tale that leads the reader into the very heart of darkness, and then shows us what lies on the other side.

About the Author

Novelist Ann Patchett is the Tennessee Williams Fellow/Visiting Lecturer at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Her novels include The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft and The Magician's Assistant.

Editorial Reviews

"An expansive page-turner . . . Patchett''s fluid prose dissolves in the suspense of this out-there adventure . . . that readers will hate to see end."(Publishers Weekly (starred review))
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