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Ann Patchett has dazzled readers with her award-winning books, includingThe Magician's Assistantand theNew York TimesbestsellingBel Canto. Now she raises the bar withState of Wonder, a provocative and ambitious novel set deep in the Amazon jungle.

Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug, the development of which has already cost the company a fortune. Nothing about Marina's assignment is easy: not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marina's research partner Anders Eckman, died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding her former mentor as well as answers to several troubling questions about her friend's death, the state of her company's future, and her own past.

Once found, Dr. Swenson, now in her seventies, is as ruthless and uncompromising as she ever was back in the days of Grand Rounds at Johns Hopkins. With a combination of science and subterfuge, she dominates her research team and the natives she is studying with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices to be made are the ones Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she may still be unable to live up to her teacher's expectations.

In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and a neighboring tribe of cannibals, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss. It is a tale that leads the reader into the very heart of darkness, and then shows us what lies on the other side.


Amazon Exclusive: Elizabeth Gilbert Interviews Ann Patchett

Elizabeth Gilbertis the author of the #1New York Timesbestseller,Eat, Pray, Love, as well as the short story collectionPilgrims—a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and winner of the 1999 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, she works as writer-at-large for GQ.

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Details

ISBN-10:  0062049801
ISBN-13:  978-0062049803
Author:  Ann Patchett
Genre:  Literature & Fiction
Publisher:  Harper
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review by . July 22, 2011
Ann Patchett's very successful latest book (#24 in Amazon sales as of this review) is the first of hers I've read, and it is quite entertaining.  About halfway through, I realized how much it was a straight retelling of Conrad's even more gothic and classic Heart of Darkness.        And at that point, Marina Singh, Patchett's hero, hadn't even met her Kurtz yet in the jungle--that would be Dr. Annick Swenson, Singh's med school professor and …
review by . May 26, 2011
I struggled with how to rate this book because of the gap between my expectations and the reality. When you're talking about an author as good as Ann Patchett (author of Bel Canto), it's easy to have high expectations, but that can also shoot you in the foot when you expect every book to be as good as those which came before. What I did not get in this book was the elegantly impressive prose that I expected, based on the author's previous work. What I DID get was an interesting story about pharmaceutical …
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