“State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett

State of WonderI want to start this entry with admiting that this book review is going to seem very wishy washy.  The truth is I didn’t love this book. But I wanted to.  I wanted to love it because Ann Patchett is a very good writer. I am kind of an “author stalker” and I tend to give a lot of rope to writers that have moved me once or twice before. She did that with “Bel Canto” and  “Run”, but this novel fell a little short for me.

This is a story that raises ethical questions about the medical industry which is a topic that is very interesting.  It is told from the point of view of a young Minnesota doctor, Marina Singh.

I think my main issue with the book is that it took a long time to get to point.  After a very long set up the novel follows the journey of Marina who works for a drug company.  One of her colleagues is mysteriously killed and she is asked to travel to the Amazon to find out what happened to him and to track down the star research doctor, Annika Swenson.

One of the reasons I kept with the book is that I really liked the character of the star researcher Dr. Swenson.  I liked HER but she wasn’t very likeable.  She is driven by her desire to find a drug for fertility and during this research she stumbles upon a cure for malaria. Relentless and hard driving she is the type of person who will do whatever it takes to get the job done including ignoring her employer.

She is also painted as one of those people clearly lacking in social skills. You know the type. She gets great lines.  At one point in the book she says to Marina:  “I keep hoping that you are more than you show yourself to be Dr. Singh.  I am just on the verge of liking you.”

If this book becomes a movie, I want to play Dr. Swenson.

At the end of the day, even if the book is slow, if the writer is good and there are good characters it can hold my interest.  It all wraps up with a bang and there is a spoiler ending.  I think it will make for good book club discussions, just be prepared that it’s no “Bel Canto”.

I give it a 3 out of 5 for good writing and good characters.  State of wonder:  “I was just on the verge of liking you!”



About Anne Loughrey

I am an avid member of several book clubs and a prolific keeper of my books. I love to discuss books and hear what others think of books I have read.
This entry was posted in ann patchett, book clubs, books, reading. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ms. Loughrey, may I offer a suggestion, or rather follow up on a previously offered suggestion that you consider “The Gathering” by Anne Enright. In my mind, the best female author alive next to Zadie Smith, who penned “White Teeth”. A friend of yours, Ms. Wick is reading said book presently. Once you read AE you will never look back. By the way, have you had a chance to read “Tears at Otter Bog” as yet? Bob

    • Yes sir, I have ordered “the Gathering” and I am quite looking forward to reading it. I too, enjoyed Zadie’s book “White Teeth”….so I see we have similiar taste. I did also enjoy “tears at otter blog”. Well written and deep. Send more!

    • Anonymous says:

      The Gathering, set in Ireland, a contemporary Irish family coming together for the wake and funeral of their young brother who has committed suicide. Narrated by his older sister the story is hilariously funny, tragic and powerful. Anne Enright is brilliant and gutsy, her prose will stun you and leave you asking, “did she just write that?” The Gathering won the Man Booker prize for literature in England. The top honor for literature in Britain. H. Melville

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am reading it right now Ann. I am reading Leftovers at the same time. I feel like I keep skipping back and forth between two not very good writers. I haven’t read her other books but I will because you said they were better. I liked the premise and I keep hoping for some intrigue. Do I have to wait all the way to the end? Anyways, love your blogs as always. Deb

    • Hi Deb, I would say on this one to use the 100 page rule if you aren’t liking it and stop reading. If you do want to read one of her works, go and get Bel Canto which is really a page turner!

  3. Mary Lou Olson says:

    Hi Anne, I think I enjoyed State of Wonder more than you did, maybe because I work in the Research field. The home office in Eden Prairie. I, too, loved Dr. Swenson (one of my bosses names!) and the book kept my interest all the way through. Now I have a few more titles to check out from this blog. Thanks for sharing.

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