What I Read During My Holidays Part 6- State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Mostly due to incredible laziness (and a bit to do with something else that I’m already getting teased enough about…) I only managed to read a couple of books in the whole 10 days I had off owing to Holidaygeddon with no money last week.

State of Wonder has been staring at me ever since I blew quite a bit of my budget on the Orange Shortlist (the 17 year olds love them some high-end literary fiction…) and seeing as it is set in the Amazon jungle,  I figured a narative structured in rains would be perfect for the Great British Summer. I’ve never read any Ann Patchett before, but have heard Good Things so thought the book would be cracking.

And it was, the first half anyways. The story of Dr Marina Singh, middle aged pharmacologist with a past, who is recruited to travel out to Brazil on the trail of her colleaugue Anders, who has been reported as dead, who himself was on the trail of the mysterious Dr Swenson, Marina’s old professor, who is doing a study into female fertitility with a tribe living in the very depths of the rainforest. Marina is reluctant in taking on the task, not least becuse of her uneasy relationship with Dr Swenson and her hatred of the malaria tablets she is forced to take that give her reoccuring nightmares about her childhood in India.

The writing is beautiful, well paced, and Marina’s character slowly emerges, you honestly feel like a stranger is telling you the story of their life-the maxim ‘show, don’t tell’, almost waves over this book like you can see it in Patchett’s studio, embroidered over her desk. Once she arrives in Brazil the book gets a little pacier and for a moment I thought was going to turn into a Talented Mr Ripley. It is then ultimatly dissappointing as the book trundles off into the jungle. Although the Amazon is alive in every sense of the word, the book never quite showed its full potential for me. I wanted thriller, I got a thought piece on scientific ethics and a character study. However, if that’s your bag, this is a well written, well structured for the most part good book. A book club would eat it, and Marina Singh is one of the more real characters I’ve read this year. If I hadn’t immediatly read The Song of Achilles afterwards, which blew me away (of which more tomorrow…) I’d have rated this book a lot more highly.

As it is, 3.5/5. I shall be looking up more of her stuff.


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