Synopses & Reviews
The elegant short fictions gathered hereabout the love of science and the science of love are often set against the backdrop of the nineteenth century. Interweaving historical and fictional characters, they encompass both past and present as they negotiate the complex territory of ambition, failure, achievement, and shattered dreams. In "Ship Fever," the title novella, a young Canadian doctor finds himself at the center of one of history's most tragic epidemics. In "The English Pupil," Linnaeus, in old age, watches as the world he organized within his head slowly drifts beyond his reach. And in "The Littoral Zone," two marine biologists wonder whether their life-altering affair finally was worth it. In the tradition of Alice Munro and William Trevor, these exquisitely rendered fictions encompass whole lives in a brief space. As they move between interior and exterior journeys, "science is transformed from hard and known fact into malleable, strange and thrilling fictional material" ().
"These lucid, elegant tales take wing from the worlds of history and science. The title novella is a griping evocation of a Canadian doctor's service at a quarantine station for immigrants fleeing the Great Famine in Ireland. Gregor Mendel, Carl Linnaeus and contemporary American
researchers infuse other stories with their grand curiousities. This is fiction of failure as well as success, of knowledge gained late and passions unquenchable. With the deep intelligence of Alice Munro and the spry imagination of Angela Carter, Barrett illuminates the shadowy path of the quest and the questing heart." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
"[Andrea Barrett's] work stands out for its sheer intelligence, its painstaking attempt to discern and describe the world's configuration. The overall effect is quietly dazzling." Thomas Mallon
1996 National Book Award Winner for Fiction.
About the Author
Andrea Barrett is the author of The Air We Breathe, Servants of the Map (finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), The Voyage of the Narwhal, Ship Fever (winner of the National Book Award), and other books. She teaches at Williams College and lives in northwestern Massachusetts.