The Chemistry Of Tears

Paperback | February 5, 2013

byPeter Carey

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London 2010. Catherine Gehrig, conservator at the Swinburne museum, learns of the unexpected death of her colleague and lover of 13 years. As the mistress of a married man, she has to grieve in private. Her boss at the museum, aware of Catherine's grief, gives her a special project--to piece together both the mechanics and the story of an extraordinary and eerie automaton. The mechanical creature is a clockwork puzzle, commissioned in 19th-century Germany by an English man, Henry Brandling, as a "magical amusement" for his consumptive son. Linked by the mysterious automaton, Catherine and Henry's stories intertwine across time to explore the mysteries of life and death, the miracle and catastrophe of human invention and the body's astonishing chemistry of love and feeling.

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From the Publisher

London 2010. Catherine Gehrig, conservator at the Swinburne museum, learns of the unexpected death of her colleague and lover of 13 years. As the mistress of a married man, she has to grieve in private. Her boss at the museum, aware of Catherine's grief, gives her a special project--to piece together both the mechanics and the story of...

PETER CAREY is the author of 11 previous novels and has twice received the Booker Prize. His other honours include the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Born in Australia, he has lived in New York City for 20 years.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 8 × 5.14 × 0.71 inPublished:February 5, 2013Publisher:Random House of CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307361489

ISBN - 13:9780307361486

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Customer Reviews of The Chemistry Of Tears

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unlikable Characters Reason for Reading: Peter Carey's True History of the Kelley Gang is one of my all time favourite books and I've always meant to read another by the author. With this latest book coming out, the time period and the automata piqued my interest enough to decide to give him another go at this time. I'm not even going to try and analyze just what the hidden, under the surface meanings are in this story, there are plenty but it gives me a headache looking at this book that way. I just want to read it and enjoy a good story. Read it I did but I only found a mediocre story. We start off on the first page meeting the main character, an adulteress, with no redeeming qualities. Her married lover has just died and she is totally wrapped up in herself. She has no cares for his children, whom he loved dearly and we learn that she often was jealous of them. She is quite younger than this man and her life seems to have existed for their relationship together, and her job as an horologist at a museum secondly. That's all, no friends, no family. Catherine, or Cat, as she is commonly called is given a project to restore to help her with her grief by the only person at the museum who knew about her affair. The text alternates between Catherine in the present dealing with her grief, possessiveness and selfishness as she becomes somewhat obsessive over the automata that she and a young assistant, whom she dislikes and distrusts, are working on. Cat is also reading through the ledgers/journals that came packed with the assemblage which gives us the other view. Henry Blanding tells his story set in the 1850s of how he came to a strange little German town and had an even stranger man build his clockwork duck for him. His journal is written to his young son whom he promised this prized possession in hopes that it would make him well, as he is a sickly boy, most likely consumptive. Henry also is not a rather likable fellow. His wife has refused relations with him, denied to care for their son, since their first child, a daughter died the same way. She is loveless to them and Henry is pathetic in his attempts to be all and do all for this cold woman who brings in an artistic crowd to their house to have her portraits painted. Henry is eventually persuaded to leave the house, his search to make the automata his pretence for leaving. While unlike Catherine, Henry does slowly change throughout the book, for the most part he is a weak man, easily taken advantage of, of superior mind of course being an Englishman, and emotionally volatile. There is more to say, but I shan't go on. The basic plot of the two stories was entertaining to read, the writing naturally superb, and I had no problem getting though the book quickly; I'm sure its short length helped matters though. But I had no connection to any of the characters, not liking them, nor caring what happened to them in the end. Not everyone is sane in this story and it's up to the reader to decide who is or isn't sane. Perhaps they are all off their rockers. The ending does little to satisfy this reader.
Date published: 2012-08-05

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Editorial Reviews

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLERA New York Times Book Review Editor’s ChoiceLONGLISTED 2014 – International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award “This thought-provoking read interlinks raw human passion with complicated puzzling about human ingenuity.... The first page is arresting and shocking and it goes on that way.... Carey’s world is always interesting and thought-provoking.” —A.S. Byatt, Financial Times “A heart-rending meditation on grief, love and time.” —The Globe and Mail  “Thrilling…. Such a gifted writer is always worth attending to.” —The New York Times Book Review “A powerful novel on the frailty of the human body and the emotional life we imbue in machines.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) “Carey’s exceptional storytelling talents are all on prominent display here.” —The Guardian