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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



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State of Wonder (P.S.)

by

State of Wonder (P.S.) Cover

 

Staff Pick

State of Wonder is Ann Patchett's best book yet (yes, even better than Bel Canto). Brimming with mystery, philosophy, intrigue, ethical questions, the flora and fauna of the Amazon jungle, and absolutely beautiful prose, Patchett's new novel should be at the top of your reading list.
Recommended by Jill Owens, Powells.com

What if women could become pregnant into their 70s? What if a woman's fertility could be increased exponentially? What if the ever-encroaching biological clock disappeared? Ann Patchett takes us deep into the Amazon in search of answers to these questions in her latest novel.

The amazingly long fertility window in the female members of the Lakashi Amazonian tribe is the subject of study for a group of doctors. When head researcher Dr. Swenson, after a decade of study, refuses to come home, share her work, or even report back to her bosses, Dr. Eckman, is sent in after her. When Dr. Eckman turns up dead, Dr. Singh is sent in to bring back his body, but also to shake loose Dr. Swenson's research results. What follows is a terrific story of survival, curiosity, culture shock and acclimation, as Dr. Singh makes her way through the jungle and finally tracks down Dr. Swenson. A story thread involving a deaf-mute child, who has somehow defected from a rival tribe, is sweet and eventually astonishing.

Patchett has laser-like insight into her characters; they never feel anything less than real. With anacondas, a hailstorm of arrows, unsanitary surgery, big-business-pharmaceutical greed, ethnocentric interference, and a great story buoyed by wonderful characters, this is must read.
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Ann Patchett returns with a provocative and assured novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest. Infusing the narrative with the same ingenuity and emotional urgency that pervaded her acclaimed previous novels Bel Canto, Taft, Run, The Magician's Assistant, and The Patron Saint of Liars, Patchett delivers an enthrallingly innovative tale of aspiration, exploration, and attachment in State of Wonder — a gripping adventure story and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love.

Review:

"Emotionally lucid....Patchett is at her lyrical best when she catalogues the jungle." The New Yorker

Review:

"The large canvas of sweeping moral issues, both personal and global, comes to life through careful attention to details, however seemingly mundane — from ill-fitting shoes and mosquito bites to a woman tenderly braiding another woman's hair." O, the Oprah Magazine

Review:

"The Amazon setting is something Patchett does rather marvelously....The book is serious, but also so pleasurable that you hope it won't end." NPR

Review:

"Packs a textbook's worth of ethical conundrums into a smart and tidily delivered story....Ms. Patchett presents an alluring interplay between civilization and wilderness, between aid and exploitation." Wall Street Journal

Review:

"Outlandishly entertaining...[with] a brilliantly constructed plot." Elle

Review:

"This is surely the smartest, most exciting novel of the summer." Washington Post

Review:

"A superbly rendered novel....Patchett's portrayal is as wonderful as it is frightening and foreign. Patchett exhibits an extraordinary ability to bring the horrors and the wonders of the Amazon jungle to life, and her singular characters are wonderfully drawn....Powerful and captivating." Library Journal (starred review)

Review:

"A spellbinder from bestselling author Patchett....Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures — even better than Patchett's breakthrough Bel Canto." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Review:

"A thrilling new novel....The world imagined in this novel is unusually vivid....Reading State of Wonder is a sensory experience, and even after it's over you'll keep hearing the sounds of insects, and your own head will still be hot." MORE magazine

Review:

"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)

Review:

"Patchett makes the jungle jump off the page....This is Patchett's best effort since The Patron Saint of Liars and, yes, that includes Bel Canto." Shelf Awareness

Review:

"In fluid and remarkably atmospheric prose, Patchett captures not only the sights and sounds of the chaotic jungle environment but also the struggles and sacrifice of dedicated scientists." Booklist

Review:

"Expect miracles when you read Ann Patchett's fiction." New York Times Book Review

Synopsis:

In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, scientific miracles, and spiritual transformations, State of Wonder presents a world of stunning surprise and danger, rich in emotional resonance and moral complexity.

As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness. Stirring and luminous, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss beneath the rain forest's jeweled canopy.

About the Author

Ann Patchett is the author of five novels: the New York Times bestselling Run; The Patron Saint of Liars, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Taft, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize; The Magician's Assistant; and Bel Canto, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Orange Prize, the BookSense Book of the Year, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of two works of nonfiction: the New York Times bestselling Truth & Beauty and What now? Patchett has written for many publications, including the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, Gourmet, the New York Times, Vogue, and the Washington Post. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 14 comments:

betho2414, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by betho2414)
Excellent
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
betho2414, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by betho2414)
Best book of 2012
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Sandra S Bax, January 4, 2013 (view all comments by Sandra S Bax)
Reading this will really put you in a State of Wonder. Bel Canto, by this author, was so good that I thought this one might be a letdown. But, definitely not so. She creates very complete characters and immerses the reader in the South American jungle setting. I am looking forward to her next book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 14 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780062049810
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Patchett, Ann
Publisher:
Harper Perennial
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
General Fiction
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series:
P.S.
Publication Date:
20120508
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8 x 5.3125 x 0.864865 in 10 oz

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State of Wonder (P.S.) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Harper Perennial - English 9780062049810 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

State of Wonder is Ann Patchett's best book yet (yes, even better than Bel Canto). Brimming with mystery, philosophy, intrigue, ethical questions, the flora and fauna of the Amazon jungle, and absolutely beautiful prose, Patchett's new novel should be at the top of your reading list.

"Staff Pick" by ,

What if women could become pregnant into their 70s? What if a woman's fertility could be increased exponentially? What if the ever-encroaching biological clock disappeared? Ann Patchett takes us deep into the Amazon in search of answers to these questions in her latest novel.

The amazingly long fertility window in the female members of the Lakashi Amazonian tribe is the subject of study for a group of doctors. When head researcher Dr. Swenson, after a decade of study, refuses to come home, share her work, or even report back to her bosses, Dr. Eckman, is sent in after her. When Dr. Eckman turns up dead, Dr. Singh is sent in to bring back his body, but also to shake loose Dr. Swenson's research results. What follows is a terrific story of survival, curiosity, culture shock and acclimation, as Dr. Singh makes her way through the jungle and finally tracks down Dr. Swenson. A story thread involving a deaf-mute child, who has somehow defected from a rival tribe, is sweet and eventually astonishing.

Patchett has laser-like insight into her characters; they never feel anything less than real. With anacondas, a hailstorm of arrows, unsanitary surgery, big-business-pharmaceutical greed, ethnocentric interference, and a great story buoyed by wonderful characters, this is must read.

"Review" by , "Emotionally lucid....Patchett is at her lyrical best when she catalogues the jungle."
"Review" by , "The large canvas of sweeping moral issues, both personal and global, comes to life through careful attention to details, however seemingly mundane — from ill-fitting shoes and mosquito bites to a woman tenderly braiding another woman's hair."
"Review" by , "The Amazon setting is something Patchett does rather marvelously....The book is serious, but also so pleasurable that you hope it won't end."
"Review" by , "Packs a textbook's worth of ethical conundrums into a smart and tidily delivered story....Ms. Patchett presents an alluring interplay between civilization and wilderness, between aid and exploitation."
"Review" by , "Outlandishly entertaining...[with] a brilliantly constructed plot."
"Review" by , "This is surely the smartest, most exciting novel of the summer."
"Review" by , "A superbly rendered novel....Patchett's portrayal is as wonderful as it is frightening and foreign. Patchett exhibits an extraordinary ability to bring the horrors and the wonders of the Amazon jungle to life, and her singular characters are wonderfully drawn....Powerful and captivating."
"Review" by , "A spellbinder from bestselling author Patchett....Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures — even better than Patchett's breakthrough Bel Canto."
"Review" by , "A thrilling new novel....The world imagined in this novel is unusually vivid....Reading State of Wonder is a sensory experience, and even after it's over you'll keep hearing the sounds of insects, and your own head will still be hot."
"Review" by , "An expansive page-turner....Patchett's fluid prose dissolves in the suspense of this out-there adventure...that readers will hate to see end."
"Review" by , "Patchett makes the jungle jump off the page....This is Patchett's best effort since The Patron Saint of Liars and, yes, that includes Bel Canto."
"Review" by , "In fluid and remarkably atmospheric prose, Patchett captures not only the sights and sounds of the chaotic jungle environment but also the struggles and sacrifice of dedicated scientists."
"Review" by , "Expect miracles when you read Ann Patchett's fiction."
"Synopsis" by , In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, scientific miracles, and spiritual transformations, State of Wonder presents a world of stunning surprise and danger, rich in emotional resonance and moral complexity.

As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness. Stirring and luminous, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss beneath the rain forest's jeweled canopy.

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