I’ve been enjoying reading my way through Ann Patchett’s books, most recently State of Wonder which I thought was readable, although not up to the standard of Bel Canto.
State of Wonder follows an American scientist, Marina Signh, whose colleague recently died in the Amazonian jungle while carrying out investigations for the company at an outpost laboratories in Brazil.
Marina was sent to the jungle to follow up by her boss, Mr Fox, who wanted her to find out what happened to Anders Eckman to give Eckman’s family closure, but also, and more importantly for the company, to learn how Dr Annick Swenson’s development of a drug which allows women to remain fertile their whole lives is progressing.
Marina’s journey to the remote tribe somewhere living in a rainforest somewhere in Brazil is not for the faint-hearted and when she arrives, things in the laboratory were not as expected.
Marina’s romantic involvement with Mr Fox complicates matters, as does the fact that the abrasive and driven Dr Swenson was Marina’s idol and teacher when she was in university. The horrible nightmares caused by the anti-malarial drugs Marina takes further complicate the decisions she needs to make.
The story seemed overly muddy and complicated to me, with characters who didn’t add much getting in the way of the story. There was too much detail about things that didn’t matter and not enough details about those that did. I struggled to believe in Marina’s relationship with Mr Fox, mostly due to the differences in their moral values and strengths and also because after a year of seeing each other Marina was unable to call him by his first name.
I think State of Wonder is a book Ann Patchett fans will enjoy, but not the book I would recommend to someone new to this author.