Medical researcher Annick Swenson, a protagonist in Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, is not one for trivial tasks, like progress reports.
Mr. Fox, CEO of the pharmaceutical company funding her research, is not one to be ignored.
However, with a project this important, Fox cannot afford to pull the plug: Annick is studying an Amazonian tribe where the women are sustaining pregnancies well into their 60s and even 70s. (Imagine the implications!)
So Fox sends Dr. Anders Eckman to track her down. But when a cryptic letter from Swenson announcing the death of this father of four makes its way to Fox’s company, too many questions arise.
Why is this Swenson woman so resistant to cooperation?
Why would a doctor give no more information than “fever” in regards to the poor man’s death?
What in the world is Annick Swenson hiding?
And who better than Anders’ lab partner and Swenson’s former student, Dr. Marina Singh, to find out?
Under both emotional and professional pressure from Anders’ wife and Mr. Fox (who we quickly discover is more than just her boss), Marina will embark on a series of adventures both terrifying and poignant. Indulge in this book, and you’ll find yourself breathless.
I’m a busy woman; I’ll tell you that. Yet despite hosting gatherings, tutoring, and battling two head colds in the past few weeks, I read State of Wonder in only two sittings. The plot just absorbed me that much. Both her story and her characters are among the most provocative and complex I’ve ever read.
If you’re going to embark on this Amazonian journey, I will leave you with a few suggestions. Firstly, always focus on the issue at hand. Though they may be riveting, do not let Patchett’s bewitching side stories distract you. Also, whatever you do, do not seek a denouement. This book is meant to leave you in a truly confused, infuriatingly bewildered state of wonder.
Enjoy the boat ride!
(You might like this podcast of Ann Patchett’s appearance at Writers on a New England Stage. She reads an unforgettable passage about a battle with an anaconda.)
About Inga Dellea-Messner
Library Assistant Inga Dellea-Messner grew up in Windham and Hudson. She worked at the Rodgers Memorial Library for seven years before becoming a library assistant at the Nashua Public Library. On her way to earning her bachelor’s degree from Keene State, she spent five months studying French in Bretagne (Brittany).