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State of Wonder Hardcover – 6 Jun 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 174 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; First Edition edition (6 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408818590
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408818596
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ann Patchett is the author of six novels, including Bel Canto, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction. She writes for the New York Times Magazine, Elle, GQ, the Financial Times, the Paris Review and Vogue. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Review

Every descriptive page leads the reader through an intriguing plot and ever closer to characters you really care about. It's a wonderful read. --Choce Magazine, June 24, 2011

Book Description

SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORANGE PRIZE FOR FICTION 2012. A dazzling tale of science and ritual, terror and love, State of Wonder is the most ambitious and mesmeric book yet from the Orange prize-winning author of Bel Canto

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I found this review quite difficult to write, much as I found parts of the book hard to read. The strange thing is that I'm not sure why I struggled so much with the beginning of this book.

I have read Ann Patchett's famous 'Bel Canto', which I thoroughly enjoyed although I was a little frustrated by the ending. Yet State of Wonder was exactly the opposite. I have seen so many glowing reviews of it over the last few weeks, many of which were by readers whose advice I almost always take. Everyone, it seems, loves this book. So when I picked it up I had high expectations and was looking forward to getting sucked into the world of the Brazilian jungle. Fifty pages later I was getting frustrated, and it felt as though the book was still going nowhere fast.

Although it took me a few days, I persevered, simply because of all the good things I had heard about it. Then, about halfway through, something just clicked into place, and I found myself reading faster and faster as I became engrossed in the story at last. I think part of the problem is that so much of the beginning of the book is taken up by waiting. You know that Marina (the main character) is going to go to Brazil in the end, and that she is eventually going to reach the jungle. The problem is that it takes so long, and while she is bored and irritated, it is all too easy for the reader to echo her feelings. In a way this is testament to Patchett's talent at drawing you into the world of the book, but it does slow the story down.

Nevertheless, despite the disappointing opening, I am so glad that I carried on and finished State of Wonder. Why? Because the second half of the book more than makes up for the first. There is real emotion in the writing, and the characters are well-drawn and more than a little real.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a wonderful novel, which does not surprise me, as I have loved her others (Bel Canto, Run), and they are all completely different in style, not at all predictable.

Despite a slightly cold beginning, I was soon transported convincingly back to Manaus, where I did once spend a short space of time. The colour, the despair, the feeling of panic and culture-shock were all depicted wonderfully.
But then the real story begins, with the journey deep into the Amazon, and it is so vividly portrayed, the characters and their relationships, and the thread of mystery running through the pages.

I was swept away, I felt I was living it myself, I stayed up til after 2am night after night reading more and more.... and when I finished the book, for a week I felt homesick for it, I was actually in mourning!

I promptly bought a copy for my mother to take away on holiday, and she felt the same way, and ignored her travelling companion for the whole week!

Buy it, read it, love it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've just been reading scathing comments from a reviewer who both has medical knowledge and knowledge also of that part of Brazil the story is mostly set in. I can then conclude that if you are a doctor and intimate with Manaus and its surroundings you won't like "State of wonder". I have also just finished reading this novel in less than 36 hours, have no medical knowledge whatsoever and would never dream of going someplace unbearably hot and tropical where you have to cream yourself up and down in order not to be eaten alive.If you're more like me than like that other reviewer I was mentioning, then you stand a good chance of liking the book. I enjoyed it a lot, simply because from the moment I opened it I found it slightly difficult to tear myself from it. It won't be the best book you've ever read, or the most literary for that matter but it certainly knows how to hook you and not let go! Flawed it most certainly is (after all experts are experts and they say so) but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of it because I don't know enough to fault it.
Comment 38 of 42 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Ann Patchett's novel would certainly not have been on my list had I not recently ventured to the Amazon rainforest. When I returned from South America, I travelled to my local bookshop to search for some relevant literature. I was delighted with this novel; Patchett captures the mysterious, foreboding atmosphere of the jungle superbly,which I believe is something one can only appreciate after visiting.
Having slogged my way through Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness', (It's brilliant, yes, but not exactly 'light reading'), I was thrilled with this tale. There's a death. There's a large, mysterious company. There's a fantastic scientist, who's been sent to work in the Amazon. But she's gone rogue. A company representative is sent to find her. Sound familiar?
Highly recommended for those with a South American experience, and for anbody who enjoys a good mystery!
An excellent read.
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Format: Paperback
A clever, original and consistently surprising story, 'State of Wonder' is that rare thing - a book where you genuinely have no idea what is going to happen. Reading this made me realise just how rare that is - the older I get, the easier it is to foresee the likely outcomes of even the best written novels. The story centres on a pharmaceutical researcher who travels to a remote and secretive research station in the Amazon to establish the facts about the death of her friend and colleague, who had been sent there just months before. Patchett conjures up the rainforest so vividly you can almost feel the heat, yet her prose never becomes over-wordy. Her protagonist, Marina, is a likeable and credible character, and Patchett has resisted what must have been a strong temptation to make the other characters overly eccentric. Despite the unusual and extreme circumstances, the novel retains believability for me - I felt the conversations and reactions of the characters were all plausible.

It's a thought-provoking novel, that doesn't provide easy answers, and retains its ability to shock right up to the end. It would be a very interesting book to discuss, and I imagine will become a popular reading group choice. There isn't really a clear 'message' being given and doesn't wrap up neatly - which is a bit frustrating, but I think means it will stay with me for longer. It's well paced and plot driven, with twists and surprises throughout. Every time I thought I knew where it was going, something would change. I also liked its exploration of mentoring relationships, which can be very powerful and important in people's lives, but are rarely explored in books.
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