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State of Wonder [Paperback]

Ann Patchett
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Mass Market Paperback 4.63  
Paperback, 26 April 2012 5.59  
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Book Description

26 April 2012


There were people on the banks of the river.

Among the tangled waterways and giant anacondas of the Brazilian Rio Negro, an enigmatic scientist is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women for ever. Dr Annick Swenson's work is shrouded in mystery; she refuses to report on her progress, especially to her investors, whose patience is fast running out. Anders Eckman, a mild-mannered lab researcher, is sent to investigate.

A curt letter reporting his untimely death is all that returns.

Now Marina Singh, Anders' colleague and once a student of the mighty Dr Swenson, is their last hope. Compelled by the pleas of Anders's wife, who refuses to accept that her husband is not coming home, Marina leaves the snowy plains of Minnesota and retraces her friend's steps into the heart of the South American darkness, determined to track down Dr. Swenson and uncover the secrets being jealously guarded among the remotest tribes of the rainforest.

What Marina does not yet know is that, in this ancient corner of the jungle, where the muddy waters and susurrating grasses hide countless unknown perils and temptations, she will face challenges beyond her wildest imagination.

Marina is no longer the student, but only time will tell if she has learnt enough.

Frequently Bought Together

State of Wonder + Bel Canto + Run
Price For All Three: 17.47

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  • Bel Canto 6.29
  • Run 5.59

Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (26 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408821885
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408821886
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,077 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.

Product Description


"The best book I have read all year. It made me laugh and weep and left me in a state of wonder: perfect from first page to last... a masterpiece"--Emma Donoghue, author of Room

"A triumph and Patchett's best book yet"--Guardian

"Written with a wry grace and irony that reminded me of The Poisonwood Bible (another favourite). I like Patchett's Bel Canto--but I loved this"--Joanna Trollope, Sunday Telegraph

"It pulls you into the book, has you standing in the jungle in the heat and sweat, as realistic as any computer-generated trickery, genuinely wondering what might happen next... Just read it and be happy that such a writer as Patchett exists"--The Times

"Something special and worth considering for all the literary prizes, festivals and reading groups going this year... exhilarating"--Daily Telegraph

Book Description

The most ambitious and mesmeric book yet from the Orange prize-winning author of Bel Canto.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
122 of 128 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult at first, but overall excellent 1 July 2011
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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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Soft-centred Heart of Darkness 9 Dec 2011
By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER
The reputation of the award-winning "Bel Canto" inspired me to read this novel.

The theme is promising. Marina, a doctor turned researcher for Vogel, a US pharmaceuticals manufacturer, is sent to Brazil to persuade the eccentric Dr. Svenson to submit details of her progress on what could be an important new fertility drug, based on studies with the remote Lakashi tribe where women seem capable of childbirth well into old age. Marina has also promised to find out more about the death of Anders, the colleague who was sent on the same mission but died of a fever in the jungle.

It is soon clear that this is by design a slow-paced book focused on detailed descriptions of people's feeling and interactions, such as the painful business of telling Karen Anders that her husband has died and been buried somewhere in the depths of the Brazilian rainforest, leaving her with three young children. There is also a strong evocation of place, such as the unbearable heat of Manaus, and the vast, anonymous scale of the rainforest, teeming with unfamiliar and often hostile life, so that Marina realises she has crossed the line away from civilisation not on leaving Manaus, but when penetrating the solid line of undifferentiated trees close-packed along the banks of a remote tributary.

There are a few good scenes, as when Marina, mistaken for a native because of her half-Indian parentage, consents to dance with the locals because it is "somehow less humiliating, less disrespectful" to do this than simply to stand with the other tourists watching them.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars you probably won't be able to stop reading... 10 Aug 2011
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a "State of Wonder" 6 Nov 2012
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful stuff - literally full of wonder!
Mesmerising and intriguing. Totally compulsive by the end. The characters were individual, full of depth and all quite different. I felt transported to another zone.
Published 1 month ago by Sarah Guhrie
5.0 out of 5 stars State of wonder
Published 1 month ago by A Cleightonhills
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and interest maintaining story
Put short and sweet - I honestly have not read a book since this one which has came up to scratch. A must read for anyone who enjoys a narrative with two main central female... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bernadette Campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars State of Wonder !! absolutely
Another intriguing story/idea from one of my favourite authors -

I couldn't put it down, fascinating - I got sucked in to the whole 'story' -
I wonder... Read more
Published 2 months ago by granny rac
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant.
What an amazing book. I was completely transported to the Amazon through this book - I could almost hear it and feel it! Read more
Published 4 months ago by An arty sort
4.0 out of 5 stars State of Wonder
I struggled with the start of the book. The writing seemed so cold and distant. Later on I realised it made the contrast between Minnesota and the Amazone so effective and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Simone
4.0 out of 5 stars Totally captivating
I have previously read "Bel Canto", the Orange Prize winning novel by Ann Patchett, but can't remember anything about it bar the cover. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Very slow moving. Clumsy in style and narrative. The characters are not well described and you are left with the feeling that you really don't care what happens to any of them. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Henrietta Thomas
3.0 out of 5 stars So slow... start with. Author takes too long to get into the story and as the reader it feels like its dragging for about 6 chapters. Read more
Published 5 months ago by S. Ahmad
5.0 out of 5 stars Good experience
I would recommend this supplier because the books arrived very quickly, the price was as low as any other I viewed, and the quality of the books was excellent. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mrs S Calder
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