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Reading List > State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

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message 1: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 7221 comments Roxanne isn’t able to be at her computer for a few days, so she asked if someone else could start this thread and I volunteered. I haven’t read such an involving book in a long time. I usually start another book as soon as I finish one, but this time, I wanted to sit with it a while and not leave the world Patchett created.


What do you all think of Dr. Swenson? In the end, I think she was awful--selfish, megalomanic, infinitely manipulative. Am I leaving out anything? Did you think she did any good? I think a vaccine for malaria is a noble cause, but did she have the right to take money from the pharmaceutical company for her project? Do you think she will ever leave the jungle? It seems she has created a kind of kingdom there for herself.
What do you think of Marina Singh? Was she just a normal woman put into extraordinary circumstances where she had to find strengths she was unaware or, or was she pretty extraordinary to start with?
What do you all think of the infertility drug? I certainly wouldn’t want to have children beyond a certain age, but I can imagine there could be some use for it. I wonder about the benefits vs. possible unintended consequences. I’m left in a state of wonderment myself.

message 2: by Carol (new)

Carol | 6956 comments Sherry like you I thought Dr. Swenson was manipulative and deceitful. She did use the money unethically I thought.

I would not even consider having a child at my age, as it was I felt thirty-eight was bad enough for me.
I thought it was similar to a scene from Star Trek movie, when the crew was at the hospital and Bones ran a scanner over an elderly woman, and she said Doctor gave me a new kidney.LOL

If such a drug were to be available, I would think there would be restrictions involved in the distribution of it. I mean would it be acceptable for a certain family who already have 20+ children to have access to it?

message 3: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 856 comments I'm still reading, but I should finish in a couple of days. An amazing book!

message 4: by TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (last edited Feb 14, 2012 09:16PM) (new)

TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments I wasn't as enthusiastic about the book as some seem, but it was interesting.


Sherry, I felt you used the right word for Dr. Swenson - megalomaniac. I don't think she'd ever leave the jungle. I would not want to be her child! I missed learning who the father of the baby was - if Patchett even gave a name.

I felt Marina would have remained an ordinary woman until she was put in extraordinary circumstances, then she discovered her strengths. However, I lost respect for Marina and Anders when they got together sexually. Why? Why tarnish two lovely persons? Anders wife trusted Marina. I had really liked Marina up until that point. I felt sure Marina was pregnant in the end, and I felt she was going to return to the jungle.

I felt Patchett didn't treat the Lakashi as real people.

It was quite interesting, but I didn't feel it measured up to Bel Canto.

So much of the time I seem to be a spoilsport on books, and I'll admit, I'm a hard reader. Maybe too much so for my own good.

message 5: by Carol (new)

Carol | 6956 comments Yes she did it was the professor who was Dr. Swenson's cohort whenshe went to the jungle. He was the one who lead expiditions into the jungle when she was a student.

message 6: by Maggie (new)

Maggie (MaggieKY) | 9 comments Dr Swenson was never meant to be a likeable character. She definitely did not set out to impress anybody. There was nothing else in her life but her research and work. I feel sympathetic towards her as I reached the end of the book.

Marina Singh, on the other hand, was very much trapped in her own mundane world until the startling news of Ander’s death. She ventured into the Amazon out of guilt and trepidation only to find adventure, courage, increased self confidence and inner strength. She went home a different woman and good on her!

As for the one night sex between Marina and Anders, one needs to understand they are two very traumatised people. They experienced so much in a short span of time — from an orderly life in Minnesota to the wilderness and deep jungles of Amazon, living with the cannibals etc. Their lives were turned upside down and they would never be the same again. Traditonal moral and values no longer matters to them. It's about survival and basic instinct. The one night sex was an attempt to find one’s sanity and humanity again. Patchett called such act human kindness and compassion.

I find this book very interesting and look forward to further discussion.

message 7: by Jane (last edited Feb 15, 2012 05:24PM) (new)

Jane | 479 comments It's been a while since I read A State of Wonder. What stays with me is the scene when the young boy, whose name I've forgotten but who was by far my favorite character, is taken back by his tribe so that Anders can go with Marina. The horror of that.

I agree with Gabrielle. I found Bel Canto far more compelling or more carefully crafted. On the other hand, A State of Wonder seems more ambitious. It raised so many interesting questions about research and science and what is ethical. No one has yet questioned the ethics of the pharmaceutical company that only wanted to conduct research if it was going to be lucrative, forget the impact on millions of people. Like many people, Dr. Swenson followed her own code of ethics, one that she felt trumped the pharmaceutical company's. The world of the jungle felt outside of typical western mores. Anders and Marina having sex didn't bother me at all. It made sense in the context of the story. I do think that it was comforting for both Anders (who had thought he would die) and Marina, who has lost the child she loved.

message 8: by Janet (new)

Janet Leszl | 1163 comments I absolutely loved this book. The writing grabbed me from the start.

Very often while I was reading it I was reminded of the movie Medicine Man with Sean Connery and Loraine Bracco. That movie and this book both touched on some similar themes. First is how often in medical research, in the process of seeking to address one area of concern, a discovery is made which leads in an entirely different direction. Or, as was the case in the movie, a substance thought to be the source of the potetial drug is impacted by an insect as oposed to the plant life alone. Next, were concerns to protect an isolated tribe and fragile eco system- the one place in the world where this potential medical marvel exists. In both stories there is the arrival of an assistant who is novice to the jungle and unsure they really want to be there for very long who gains an appreciation for the place and people.

Now back to this particular tale. I think in Dr. Swenson’s mind everything was justified by the medical research she wanted to do. I don’t think it even really mattered who the father of her baby was. She was single minded with one exception -the boy, Easter. She could have attempted to return him when he was well but didn’t; he became her surrogate child long before she became pregnant.

I was heartbroken when Easter was exchanged for Anders but it also felt right. The author clearly indicated his parents had thought he was dead and wanted him back the same way Anders family and colleagues wanted him back.

I was somewhat disappointed in Marina for having sex with Anders. Yet the author seemed to indicate she’d not be going back to Mr. Fox and wanted to let the reader know after all that time consuming the bark she’d get pregnant with her own child. Did the author do that to make us feel better about Marina having to leave Easter behind or was she maybe setting up the possibility for a sequel? Interesting to think about what would happen in Marina’s future. Would she go back to work at the same place with the man who fathered her child?

TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments I agree with Jane that this is a more ambitious book than Bel Canto, it raises weightier themes. And Easter was my favorite character, too. I adored him.

As unlikable as she was, I think Annick Swenson was the book's center. She really kicked the story into high gear. I didn't like her as a person, but I liked her as a character in a book the way one does "like" some villains.

I won't give Marina and Anders a pass on the sex, though, traumatized or not. If my husband ever did that and claimed "I was traumatized" I'd take his money and kick him out even if he had been in the Amazon. It was just unnecessary. Marina could have gotten pregnant with another man. Mr. Fox, for that matter. I tend to be fairly inflexible when it comes to morals. Had Anders not been married and even had his wife not put her trust in Marina, it would have been different. But a betrayal of trust that huge is soul shattering, I think.

Thank you, Kitty. I had forgotten that.

message 10: by Keisha (new)

Keisha | 14 comments Kitty wrote: "Yes she did it was the professor who was Dr. Swenson's cohort whenshe went to the jungle. He was the one who lead expiditions into the jungle when she was a student."

You mean Dr Rapp? But he died sometime ago. Not recent enough to have inseminated Dr Swenson unless she froze his sperm. Which isn't unbeleiveable for her.

message 11: by Keisha (new)

Keisha | 14 comments G wrote: "I agree with Jane that this is a more ambitious book than Bel Canto, it raises weightier themes. And Easter was my favorite character, too. I adored him.

As unlikable as she was, I think Annick ..."

G, I too agree the sex was unnecessary. It added nothing to the overall story. Initally I thought oh well Patchett is doing this to create a Marina pregnancy storyline but then the book ended. So perhaps it was just to plant the idea of it most likely occuring.

message 12: by Keisha (new)

Keisha | 14 comments I loved this book! Initially I wasn’t looking forward to reading it but I’m so glad I did.

A lot of comments I wanted to make have been said already. But I did want to know what you guys thought about Marina going alone to rescue Anders knowing what the others had just experienced there with the poison arrows. I understood her reasoning but it still seemed a bit far-fetched.

message 13: by Carol (last edited Feb 15, 2012 10:22AM) (new)

Carol | 6956 comments Keisha wrote: "Kitty wrote: "Yes she did it was the professor who was Dr. Swenson's cohort whenshe went to the jungle. He was the one who lead expiditions into the jungle when she was a student."

You mean Dr Ra..."

Artificial insemination and frozen sperm.

message 14: by TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (last edited Feb 15, 2012 02:34PM) (new)

TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments Keisha wrote: "I loved this book! Initially I wasn’t looking forward to reading it but I’m so glad I did.

A lot of comments I wanted to make have been said already. But I did want to know what you guys thoug..."

I agree it was far-fetched, Keisha, and Marina hadn't seemed that brave a person, and I don't mean to be insulting Marina by that. I just didn't think she was the kind of woman to face that. Perhaps she was thinking of the promises she made to Anders' wife, but if that was uppermost in her mind I don't think there was any way the sex would have taken place.

Thank you, Keisha for mentioning Dr. Rapp. Yes, that's who I couldn't think of or completely missed or had wrong. I agree, he couldn't have been the father of Dr. Swenson's child unless his sperm had been frozen as Kitty suggested. Personally, I don't think it's him.

I thought Marina was going to return to the jungle.

I thought this book was beautifully written, but didn't quite have the magic of Bel Canto. Others, I know, may like it more.

message 15: by Jane (new)

Jane | 1984 comments I don't think that we can impose our morals on other people who live in a different world. I, too, would send my husband packing if he cheated on me, but the sex between Marina and Anders seemed justified. They needed some human warmth, and they weren't going to turn this one night into a long-term relationship. Sometimes life gets messy as we all know.

message 16: by Elaine (last edited Feb 15, 2012 07:54PM) (new)

Elaine | 2 comments Hi,

This is my first post ever on Good Reads! Hope someone responds so I can have some GR friends!! I read State of Wonder and loved it. A remarkably evocative and engaging story. The story, as unusual as it was, seemd credible until the ending - the exchange of Anders for Easter. Not sure what I was expecting but not that. The comments I've read raise alot of questions about character, morals, motives etc. I think I just got caught up in the good story telling.

message 17: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 9130 comments Welcome, Elaine. This was our "official" read for this month and we just started talking about it yesterday. Glad you can join in.

message 18: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 7221 comments Welcome from me, too, Elaine. I thought the exchange made perfect sense. There was always a little something fishy to me in Dr. Swenson's explanations of who Easter actually was. Having found out in retrospect that she told his tribe he was dead fits right into her telling the Minnesota people that Anders was dead. She just couldn't be bothered with relevant details that might throw her into a bad light. I can just hear her saying to herself "Well, that will shut them up!" But it never did. I feel really sorry for Easter, since he was so young when he was "adopted." But maybe his tribe would know how to take care of a deaf boy. That was just an excuse Swenson made to justify her actions.

message 19: by Mary Anne (new)

Mary Anne | 1228 comments I started to read this book just after hearing Patchett speak. This author seems like such a deliberate writer. I suppose you could say that about all writers, but Patchett writes with an extra dose of intentionality, in my opinion.

Was the sex betrayal? I think you could make the case that Anders betrayed his family sometime before that. Do we find out that he walks away into the Jungle and everyone thinks he is dead? Like Jane points out, the sex act doesn't seem sexual, in this case.

Mr. Fox, CEO of the pharmaceutical company, needs to find out what is going on with the company's investment. So he sends Marina, the researcher with whom he's having an affair. She apparently could have been the first one to go, but she defers to Anders, and now Anders is dead. I love that Marina (and the author) never call him anything but Mr. Fox. He seems so gutless, then it turns out he could have gone himself all along.

message 20: by Janet (new)

Janet Leszl | 1163 comments I found it interesting that even though Marina was romantically involved with him, he is always referred to as Mr. Fox. I think there was one place where his first name is used but I can't be sure. Anyway, as much as Marina indicates she could envision a more permanent relationship with him early in the book, her constant reference to him as Mr. Fox made that doubtful from the beginning.

message 21: by Jane (new)

Jane | 479 comments Janet, I agree with you. The use of his official name implied a lack of intimacy. She seemed to have been much closer with Anders. They were definitely intellectual soul mates. I liked the "messiness" of the relationships. It helped the story, which is very "Heart of Darkness" and out of my experience, feel more real to me. Marina's longings, both personally (romantic, sexual, maternal) and in terms of her career run as threads throughout the book.

message 22: by TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (last edited Feb 16, 2012 09:44AM) (new)

TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments I think Marina and Anders shared a genuine friendship. I don't think the feelings between Marina and Mr. Fox were as genuine or deep. I don't think Mr. Fox was capable of deep feeling, and at that point, Marina was very confused, in part, I think because of her father, or she probably wouldn't have entered into a romantic relationship with Mr. Fox. Marina was a good person, a caring person. Mr. Fox did seem a gutless person, as MAP pointed out.

By the way, Mr. Fox's first name was Jim. You're right, Janet, it was used once.

message 23: by Janet (new)

Janet Leszl | 1163 comments Regarding an earlier question of Sherry’s about what we thought of Dr. Swenson, I want to cite an example of how manipulative & deceitful she was. Marina was haunted by the unintentional maiming of a baby during the emergency c section she performed. Dr. Swenson didn’t even acknowledge she remembered Marina and the incident until she forced her to perform one as prep for delivery of her own child. Throughout this novel Dr. Swenson was clearly self-centered and self-serving while deluding herself into thinking her actions were for the greater good.

message 24: by Jane (new)

Jane | 479 comments Does Dr. Swenson have any redeeming qualities? Patchett rarely has characters who are completely evil. I think she's courageous, intelligent and has a moral compass that allows her to use the pharm. money for what she feels is the greater good. And, she is also selfish, egotistical, domineering, has been mentioned.

message 25: by Jane (new)

Jane | 1984 comments Jane wrote: "Does Dr. Swenson have any redeeming qualities? Patchett rarely has characters who are completely evil. I think she's courageous, intelligent and has a moral compass that allows her to use the pharm..."

Jane, that is a good description of Dr. Swenson. She seems very realistic to me. The few super-intelligent people that I have known seem to be lacking in other areas like in social skills and common sense.

By the way, I recently read a non-fiction book called RIVER OF DOUBT by Candice Millard. It is the story of the Teddy Roosevelt expedition in the Amazon jungle in 1914. The reason that I am bringing it up here is that it has incredible descriptions of the Amazon jungle and how frightening it is to non-native people. The jungle is absolutely a character in Millard's book.

message 26: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 189 comments Dr Swenson was an interesting character. She certainly wasn't a likeable person but I think her character as it was, was good for the story. She seemed rather mysterious at times. I found it strange that even though I thought her deceit regarding the money for the malaria vaccine was wrong, I found myself hoping Marina wouldn't tell. Maybe because I didn't really care for Mr. Fox either (and yes, calling him Mr Fox didn't help that).

message 27: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 189 comments My least favorite part of the book was the sex. I thought it cheapened it and felt bad for Karen. I also think once a relationship goes "there" it changes things. And I didn't want them to change in that way between them. The book hinted at a possible pregnancy...and I definitely did Not want it to happen with Anders. A night of laying together would have had the comforting, humanizing effect some of you think the sex was supposed to do.

message 28: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 9130 comments I didn't like the sex part, either, for much the same reasons Julie didn't. I'm not prudish about sex between unmarried characters or those who are married to someone else, but I thought this was pandering on the part of the author, like the obligatory sex scene in a not-quite-as-good-as-it-ought-to-be movie.

TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments I assumed Marina was pregnant because the bark became distasteful to her after being with Anders, and it had previously been mentioned that once the women become pregnant, they stop eating the bark.

I kind of felt Patchett wanted a tie - a baby - between Marina and Anders. I don't like it. Julie expressed my feelings about it, but Patchett had to write what she felt was best for her characters. It's her call to make and I respect it and her. I would rather it have been some anonymous man, though, but then Marina probably wouldn't have slept with someone she didn't know. She had a genuine friendship with Anders.

Does anyone feel Marina is going back to the jungle? I definitely do.

message 30: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen | 1227 comments I just finished reading the book and am a bit numbed by the rapid emotional crescendo of its ending - or really, two endings, because the loss of Easter was certainly an ending, as well as Anders's happy homecoming.

So, one person united with the family who thought him dead was like a punch in the gut to me (yet I certainly was touched by Patchett's description of Easter's mother, fighting against the force of the water to get to her son), so much so I lost some of the happiness of Anders uniting with his wife and boys.

I agree with Ruth's assessment of the sex scene (however discreetly rendered). It didn't make me think Marina and Anders were horrible people, but it was not necessary for the book. Someone thought Marina and Anders were soulmates, but I think that Anders and Karen were deeply bonded, more so than Anders and Marina. The "letter" Marina found, in which Anders had simply written Karen's name, over and over, was so touching - a testament to her importance to him.

I don't know whether Marina will return to the jungle - to be under the thumb of Dr. Swenson again? horrors! - but I don't see how she could continue at Vogel. I think she rediscovered the importance of being a healer, of the capacity she has to care and cure, of her well of compassion. I don't think she'd be content with sitting in her little lab office walled off from the world of humanity... (I think the job is different for Anders - it is just a job, means to care for his family, in which he is rooted.)

Mr. Fox was a jerk. The scene in which he ducks out of the responsibility of telling Karen that Anders is dead, by fixing his attention on pictures on their refrigerator, literally turning his back on Karen and Marina, made me dislike and mistrust him from the beginning. And he has been leading his board of directors astray in the same way that Dr. Swenson has been misleading him. (Those two were made for each other, perhaps!)

Dr. Swenson felt that all other values should fall before the demands of scientific research. So her Dr. Rapp was justified in leaving a sickened student behind, as was she in lying to Vogel about Anders's death, because nothing should stand in the way of the march of science. One finds the same type of thinking with regard to great artistic talent - all must bow before genius. (Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark has this theme.) Yet she decides, for all intents and purposes, to drop her research on the fertility drug because, in her case, it did not go well, which seems a pretty non-scientific way of making a decision. She was, as they say, a real piece of work!

message 31: by Jane (new)

Jane | 479 comments Mary Ellen, I'm the one who used the term "soul mates" about Anders and Marina. But I qualified it--intellectual soul mates. I think their relationship contrasts sharply with Marina's relationship with Mr. Fox, with whom she has sex but little intimacy. Clearly Marina appreciates Karen's connection with Anders. Karen's grief is one of the reasons that Marina is moved to search for him. The sex felt almost inevitable to me after the horror of Easter's return to his tribe. I understand that he belonged with them in some way, but his own terror and sense of betrayal at being abandoned, just left me undone. Perhaps it was a plot device to raise the possibility of Marina's pregnancy. I think Patchett is a master of the unlikely. And she convinces me every time.

message 32: by Maggie (new)

Maggie (MaggieKY) | 9 comments Jane, I agree with you. Losing Easter was a horror. It is really difficult to gauge the extent of emotional damages Easter may endure. The positive is he seems pretty resilient and resourceful so far. We need to keep reminding ourselves that these are people who live in the jungle and they are tribals unlike the Western society we know. Losing Easter was a bit of a shock to us but the fact that he’s been returned to his own birth parents and tribe is really not all that bad. What do other people think?

message 33: by Lyn (last edited Feb 17, 2012 04:17PM) (new)

Lyn | 585 comments It's been a few months since I read this book, but I think that what I liked most about it was that it was different and I didn't see everything coming ahead of time. I think it's difficult to surprise a reader.

I enjoyed the character of Dr. Swenson, a very interesting, strong, different, flawed female.

It felt bad to lose Easter, but I also appreciated that the ending of the book didn't make everything perfect with rainbows. And I did think that his tribe valued him and there would be affection both ways eventually.

message 34: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen | 1227 comments Maggie, I agree that Easter is, in a sense, going home when he is returned to his parents. Their response to the discovery that he was, after all, alive, was genuine and heartfelt. Easter always seemed so eager for any show of affection; it seems likely that he would find that with his family and his people. I felt that Patchett was challenging me to examine why I was so horrified by Easter's return to his own tribe. I realized that most of the negative info about them came from Dr. Swenson, and she had an interest in keeping everyone in her group away from them.

message 35: by Ann (last edited Feb 17, 2012 05:01PM) (new)

Ann | 2340 comments I liked this book much better than Bell Canto. As Lyn said, the plot was unpredictable, and that is always fun.

I did however, have advance notice that Anders would resurface because of an interview Michael Feldman of public radio's Whadaya Know had with Patchett on his show. He pretty much let the cat out of the bag, and she was not happy about it.

I could care less about the sex at the end. What upset me was Easter's loss. It looked like the Americans would take Easter back to Minnesota, and that would have been a different kind of tragedy for him. Maybe Dr. Swenson was right in suggesting that he would find an empty canoe and paddle back to her camp.

I really liked Marisa, with her nightmares about her father, loneliness, and amazing loyalty to her colleague. I hope she does get pregnant, but I don't see how she can continue working at the same company. I can't see her returning to the Amazon. She belongs in Minnesota.

This book pretty much convinced me that I never want to go to the Amazon.

message 36: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 9130 comments Jane wrote: "I think Patchett is a master of the unlikely. And she convinces me every time...."

The major problem for me with this book is that she did not convince me. I just couldn't buy that Mr. Fox (interesting choice of a name) would send someone as totally unprepared as Marina to find Anders. Marina knew nothing about the jungle, nothing about Dr. Swenson's research, nothing about the machinations of Vogel. Try as I would I couldn't believe this would happen.

Let's face it, Mr. Fox must be a pretty good businessman if he's running this big drug company. Yet he chooses someone totally unprepared. It only makes sense if you remember that Marina is someone with whom he has a sexual relationship, someone whom he realizes is getting serious, maybe wanting to get married. Someone he's careful never to be seen with. I think this was his way of dumping her.

Aha. I have just now talked myself into buying the premise I said I couldn't believe!

message 37: by Dale (new)

Dale Short (Daleinala) | 623 comments I'm only a dozen pages in, but I had forgotten how smooth and skillful Patchett's prose is. A whole world pops up from nowhere on the pages.

message 38: by Janet (new)

Janet Leszl | 1163 comments Somehow the dilemma of what would be best for Easter brought to mind the situation, quite a number of years ago, when a mother drowned enroute from Cuba to USA and the families and politics of each nation each felt they were the only appropriate environment for the child to be raised in.

message 39: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 7221 comments I agree, Dale, a whole world that seems so real, too. Ruth, no one knew anything about the Amazon in the company; who would he have sent? Private investigators? Janet, I know who you are thinking of, and his first name is Elia or something, but I know it's not "Kazan" which keeps popping into my brain. What do you all think of the eco-system portrayed? The little trees, the blue mushrooms, the moths (or was it butterflies?), the gnawing women. I really bought that. I wonder if she is basing it on anything similar, or she just concocted it from her wonderful imagination. The one good thing I thought Dr. Swenson did was protect the tribe and the ecosystem, which would surely have been destroyed if it became common knowledge.

Everyone is wondering if the sex was gratuitous. I think that the gnawing was addictive, so maybe there was something in the bark making the women want to have sex, too. She did seem a bit out of her head.

message 40: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily The name of the boy from Cuba is Elian Gonzalez.

message 41: by Ann (last edited Feb 18, 2012 11:53AM) (new)

Ann | 2340 comments There’s an interesting interview with Patchett in The Guardian newspaper:

In this she discusses a boat trip she took to Peru to explore the Amazon region and a caesarean she witnessed – both as research for her book.

The idea of never ending fertility, which would include never ending menstrual cycles, sounds like a nightmare to me. I find it interesting that Patchett would explore this theme given that she says she knew from childhood that she never wanted children. On the other hand, she does show that she really understands the parent/child bond when she writes about Easter and also Anders’ children.

message 42: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 7221 comments Ann, the link didn't work for me. I wondered if Patchett did a whole lot of research for this book. The book read as if she had.

message 43: by Mary Anne (new)

Mary Anne | 1228 comments Ann, there was a similar spoiler when I heard Patchett speak: during the Q & A, someone asked if Marina was pregnant at the end. Patchett was pissed, and the questioner didn't seem to get that not everyone had finished the book with her.

message 44: by Ann (new)

Ann | 2340 comments Sherry,
Try to access the interview again using the link in my note. I edited it to try to fix the problem. If it doesn't work, do a Google on "Patchett interview guardian" and you will find it.

message 45: by Maggie (new)

Maggie (MaggieKY) | 9 comments Sherry wrote: "Ann, the link didn't work for me. I wondered if Patchett did a whole lot of research for this book. The book read as if she had."

There is another interview on youtube on the book:-

message 46: by Ann (last edited Feb 18, 2012 12:11PM) (new)

Ann | 2340 comments MAP,
Well I can certainly see why Patchett was irritated! I kept wondering how I would have reacted if I hadn't known about Anders. The only positive was that it was interesting to observe how Patchett set it all up. Had you finished the novel before you heard her speak?

I read a lot of literary fiction and it is rare that one of the authors knows how to pull the reader in with an intricately plotted story with unexpected twists. Patchett really hit the mark with this book, as did Verghese in CUTTING FOR STONE. So many "literary" authors seem to sacrifice plot for realism or poetic language. I want it all!

message 47: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 9130 comments Patchett certainly convinced me that I never want to get near the jungle. It was almost like another protagonist in the book. She made it real for me in a way that it never has been real before.

That said, I was a little disturbed that the Lakashi never emerged as individuals. They were a unit, unknown and mysterious--sort of like the jungle.

message 48: by Lyn (last edited Feb 18, 2012 02:43PM) (new)

Lyn | 585 comments I'd forgotten to give my feelings about the sex between Marina and Anders. It must have been skillfully written, because my impression of it was that it was a one-time deep sharing of/recovering from all they'd seen and been through, something Karen would never be able to understand really. I felt that getting it out then and having sex at that point was a better way to deal with the experiences they had shared than to have that bond linger unresolved between them after getting back to the states and Karen. There seemed to be no question as to either's allegiance or love for Karen, and no question that they would never be together again or feel a need to. Just my impressions and how I felt as a reader with it.

message 49: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 7221 comments Thanks, Ann. I was able to read the Guardian article which is very interesting. As far as the Lakashi never being individuals, I'm not so sure they could be, since no one could really understand their language, and I imagine a tribe like that has to be almost like an organism to survive. I would imagine individuality might get evolved out of their system.

message 50: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 9130 comments But why in all those years had no one made an effort to understand their language? That's just plain weird.

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Books mentioned in this topic

The Song of the Lark (other topics)
Bel Canto (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Robin Cook (other topics)