State of Wonder

First sentence: ‘The news of Anders Eckman’s death came by way of Aerogram, a piece of bright blue airmail paper that served as both the stationery and, when folded over and sealed along the edges, the envelope.’

Deep in the Amazon jungle, a group of scientists are researching a drug that would revolutionize human fertility. The level of secrecy surrounding the project excludes even the pharmaceutical company that is funding them to truly know how the project is going. Eventually the company sends one of its own scientists down to find out the progress of the drug in person.

Dr. Marina Singh is a pharmacologist, and upon learning of her colleague’s death in the Amazon, she is sent after him. Her employer wants her to finish Eckman’s task of finding out the progress of Dr. Swenson’s miracle drug. Dr. Eckman’s wife wants the details of her husband’s death. Within days Marina is flying to Brazil and the journey she takes into the jungle changes her life forever.

I can’t really summarise State of Wonder by Ann Patchett with any justice. As always when I read Patchett’s novels, I am struck by her lyrical prose, how the experiences of human life and the secrets of the soul unfold with such natural grace. This novel, appearing to move with the steady slowness of the Amazon itself, teems with power and life; it snatches you in its current and carries you away. Read this novel to take a journey through memory and the unknown; to float down the life blood of the world, hearing the buzz of insects, the cries of birds, the calling of the Lakashi; see the drive and sacrifices made in the pursuit of science; to read a tale of loss and discovery.

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