State of Wonder: A Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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A New York Times best seller
Orange Prize nominee
A Time Magazine’s Best Books of the Year
A Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Top Ten Best Books
A Wellcome Trust Book Prize nominee.
“Expect miracles when you read Ann Patchett’s fiction.” (New York Times Book Review)
Award-winning, New York Times best-selling author Ann Patchett returns with a provocative and assured novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest.
Marina Singh is a research scientist at Vogel, a pharmaceutical institute in Minnesota, and inconveniently in love with her boss, Mr. Fox. When one of her colleagues is reported to have died while following up on the progress of a field team based in Brazil, Marina is dispatched by Mr. Fox to the Amazon to uncover the truth of his death. And his widow wants his effects.
She travels to Manaus, then down into the Amazonian delta, deep into the dense, dark, insect-infested jungle. The research team is looking into the development of a new miracle drug that could revolutionize Western society. A local tribe has the bark of a certain tree, it yields a substance which allows them to conceive late into middle age: many of the women are getting pregnant into their 60s and 70s.
The problem is that the team is taking too long: they have been silent for two years, and Marina has been tasked to find out what is holding back their progress. The second problem is more serious: the team is being headed up by the daunting figure of Annick Swenson, an eminent and fiercely uncompromising scientist who was once Marina’s colleague, and towards whom Marina has very complicated feelings. What Marina learns will change her life. In a novel that is packed with amazing twists and surprises, Ann Patchett returns with immense confidence to a broad canvas, teeming with atmosphere and characters and rich with narrative.
Remarkable events - fights with anacondas; encounters with cannibals; deaths; re-births - and profound moral decisions come together in a novel that will enthrall her many listeners and fans and is guaranteed to be a major best seller.
Infusing the narrative with the same ingenuity and emotional urgency that pervaded her acclaimed previous novels Bel Canto, Taft, Run, The Magician’s Assistant, and The Patron Saint of Liars, Patchett delivers an enthralling, innovative tale of aspiration, exploration, and attachment in State of Wonder - a gripping adventure story and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love.
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 22 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||June 07, 2011|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #9,191 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Caribbean & Latin American Dramas & Plays
#9 in Drama & Plays (Audible Books & Originals)
#69 in Political Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
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Top reviews from the United States
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The basic plot of "State of Wonder": In the first sentence we learn that Dr. Anders Eckman is dead. Anders had traveled deep into the Amazon at the behest of his employer, a Minneapolis-based pharmaceutical company that has a researcher working at a secret site on a secret drug that will revolutionize the world. But the researcher is incommunicado. Anders was sent to investigate. And then tragedy strikes. With few details about his death and no body (he was hastily buried in the jungle), Dr. Marina Singh, Anders's officemate, is sent to the Amazon to find out what happened to this married father of three young boys. And so begins a state of wonder in which the reader will be carried with descriptions so vivid that it's easy to envision the chaos and blistering heat of the jungle and almost hear the squawking birds and screeching creatures that inhabit it. Marina's perfectly ordinary life has been upended and will never be perfectly ordinary again.
But the book is so much more than plot--no matter how riveting and engrossing. It is also about people, our connections, the choices we make and the effects those choices have on us and others.
I expected a book about exploring the Amazon. The first half of the book was all about the main character, a doctor and scientist, and her work and personal relationships in Minnesota. By the time she flies to Manaus to look for a lost colleague, one is already half-way through the book.
Eventually, the person she is waiting for in Manaus shows up, and she follows them into the jungle. From here, her experiences are so different from what I would have expected, yet interesting and profound. I really enjoyed stepping into this woman's shoes and experiencing everything she experienced. It's like adventure travel, combined with science and moral dilemmas, and calls for bravery in multiple situations. To my surprise, the book winds up with a very satisfying ending.
I would give this book 4 1/2 stars if I could. I will definitely read another one by this author
Top reviews from other countries
State of Wonder is a masterpiece novel, written by true wordsmith Ann Patchett. Patchett is unbelievably talented and this book left me with a feeling of Wow.
State of Wonder starts with the death of Anders Eckman, a Research Doctor for pharmaceutical company Vogel. He was in the Amazon searching for Dr. Swenson, who had gone AWOL.
Marina Singh, Anders’ colleague, goes on a journey to the Amazon to uncover the mystery surrounding his death. On this journey, Marina will have to confront her past, learn the progress of Dr. Swenson’s research in the present, with the hopes that the life-long fertility drug will save Vogel’s future.
But what she finds is so much more than what she expected. Marina goes on a journey that transforms her from within.
State of Wonder readers will forget to eat, go to bed later than normal and completely lose track of time. Purely because they are driven to read on by all aspects of this brilliant story: the plot, the description and the characters.
The complexity of the plot is utterly captivating, completely compelling and has some great twists. Every aspect of this book’s plot is strong: the beginning, middle and end. Patchett’s superb description in State of Wonder sent my imagination into overdrive and immersed me fully into that beautiful but deadly part of the world.
Patchett’s characters are brilliantly crafted. Patchett explores a range ethical issues through her characters perspectives and gives some interesting points of view. These points of view are consistent with her characters and leave the reader plenty to think over, long after they have finished reading the book. State of Wonder is one of those rare books that leaves the reader feeling somehow changed inside.
State of Wonder is beyond marvellous. It is probably the best work of fiction that I’ve read in years. If I had to rate it out of 5 stars, I’d give it 6 stars.
State of Wonder far exceeded any expectations I had for it. My copy of the book had the old book cover which was both fantastic and appealing. I don’t know what the publishers were thinking with the new book cover (pictured above). It looks cheap and does nothing to attract a potential reader. If you’re thinking about picking up this novel, ignore any feelings about the cover and do. It is an essential read for any lover of fiction.
I cannot heap enough praise on Patchett for this novel. State of Wonder will leave readers in a State of Wonder. See what I did there? Despite this play on words, that is actually how a reader will feel when he or she finishes the book.
State of Wonder is available to buy on Amazon and at all good bookshops.
The narrative keeps us balanced between the wonders of the remote rainforests and the dangers ready to jump at any moment. The writing allows us to step inside this world and see the expanse and allure of the rainforests, feel the humidity and atmosphere of the jungle, and get a sense of the hidden tribes that exist in these regions. Many tribes have never engaged with the outside world and some are still cannibalistic, while others have accepted strangers. Each tribe is very territorial with their own unique characteristics and secrets. The rituals and cultures dictate so much of the actions taken and many are just so alien to our experiences. The pace of the book is gentle but you just want to keep turning the pages. It is a brilliant engrossing story of exceptional insight.
Now the company sent out 42 year old Dr Marina Singh, a former pupil of Swenson’s and friend of Anders to establish contact with Swenson and to find out more about Anders’ death. What happens during this mission makes up the bulk of the book, which is intricately plotted, wonderfully written, and in which dramatic incidents follow close on one another.
There is first of all the compelling way in which Patchett describes the Amazon jungle and the innumerable dangers from insects, snakes, poisonous frogs etc.
Then there is the description of Lakashi tribe, of their so unfamiliar behaviour and customs, and the habit of its women to go to a particular place in the jungle to chew the bark from the trees there, which was the cause of their prolonged fertility and which, incidentally but importantly, prevented them from catching malaria.
Dr Swenson is the most impressive and fully realized character in the book. She was commanding personality whose gestures the Lakashi instantly obeyed. Although she initially resented the appearance of Marina, she was actually not as remote as one might have thought, told Marina at length about her experiences with the tribe, and in due course liked and respected her, and entrusted her with some quite remarkable responsibilities. Nor was she a solitary a worker: she was surrounded by a group of other doctors. But it also turns out that, on two important matters, she had deliberately lied, and these result in the dramatic ending of the book.
She had also more or less adopted Easter a young deaf boy from another tribe. He was very agile and intelligent boy; he skilfully piloted the pontoon boat on which they travelled and memorized all the creeks and inlets of the river system. He also easily formed bonds: with Dr Swenson, with Marina, and he had formed one with Anders while Anders was with the Lakashi.
It also turns out that, on two important matters, Dr Swenson had deliberately lied, and these result in the dramatic ending of the book.
There are a few drawbacks: the novel ends without telling us what happened to Dr Swenson when Marina eventually returned to America; and I found one or two crucial events hard to explain – notably what had made Marina agree to go to the Amazon in the first place, and why she had agreed to the company’s request that she should stay when she had decided to leave. But these cavils do not stop me from giving this remarkably inventive and unputdownable novel a five star rating.