State of Wonder

By Ann Patchett

This is the book that set my wife and myself on a 8 month Ann Patchett spree. We started reading it aloud in the evenings, and it kept us on the edge of the couch, listening intently, until it was finished. Then, we started looking for another Patchett novel to read. In that time we forgot that Netflix existed. We only wanted to read Ann Patchett. In 8 months we methodically read her entire oeuvre.

I should try to say what precisely is so gripping and addictive about Patchett. And that’s a challenge. There is not a lot of “excitement” in these books. These books are not thrillers.¬† I’m not even sure if Patchett is capable of writing a sex scene.

I think their power comes from a high degree of realism, but not so much realism that they become a chore to read. It’s more like they have a lot of emotional realism. The relationships are always complex. The characters develop slowly and form vivid personalities that live on the pages. She particularly likes to write about sibling relationships, such as in the books, Run, The Dutch House, and Commonwealth.

As for State of Wonder, this novel is about a scientist who works for a medical company, and who makes a trip to a tropical rainforest research station. Its a lovely and finely crafted novel.

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