Bridget's Reviews > State of Wonder

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
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's review
Jun 24, 2011

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bookshelves: 2011-reads
Read in June, 2011 , read count: 1

So. I have heard so much about this book, and had thought I might want to read it. When my husband brought a copy home and finished reading it, I thought I'd give it a try. I've never read any of Ann Patchett's work before, though I know she is very well-regarded. For good reason, as the writing was pretty magnificent.

The story is told by Marina Singh, a doctor/scientist for Vogel Pharmaceuticals in Minnesota. As the story opens, she learns that her colleague Anders Eckman, who traveled to Brazil to check up on a doctor who is working on a new drug there, has died. No real explanation of what happened, just that he had a fever and was buried there. The letter is several weeks old by the time it arrives. Both Marina's boss (who is also her lover), and Eckman's wife Karen, want her to go and find out just what actually happened. This is primarily because the doctor doing the drug studies, Annick Swenson, was one of Marina's professors in medical school at Johns Hopkins.

What follows is a story of frustration, for Marina and for the reader. There are so many obstacles to be conquered before Marina can even *get* to where Dr. Swenson is, getting there becomes more of a focus than the why. She finally arrives, determined to get in and get out. However, as the story develops, she becomes more and more interested in what is going on, and the native people of the region. And Dr. Swenson eventually confesses that she has been wanting her to stay and carry on her work.

The entire story is leisurely, often in the most annoying way possible. When the end comes, it is rather sudden, and at least for me, somewhat surprising.

I will say again that the writing is what makes this book worthwhile. It's just that, for me, none of the characters really seemed that likable. Also, this book challenges beliefs and opinions, and to be honest, a lot of the time I just wasn't in the mood for it! I considered not finishing it, mainly because I found so little in the characters to keep going; in the end, I guess I am glad that I did finish it. Well-written, with disturbing and thoughtful themes, but too rushed of an ending for me.

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