Deep in the Amazon, the secretive and suspicious Dr. Swenson is developing a drug for a Minnesota pharmaceutical company. Anders, a research scientist, is sent there to get an update on the development and dies of a fever. Marina, likewise a research scientist, is sent to the Amazon in his wake with the same goal. Furthermore, she searches for answers regarding Anders’ death.
Marina’s journey leads to not only remote indigenous village in the Amazon, but to her past as a gynecologist, which ended abruptly, and to her childhood with an Indian father.
The forte of “State of Wonder” is the exotic milieu of the Amazon, the completeness of the characters, and the very realistic conundrum regarding development of medicine for the people or for profit.
Each character is in fact in a state of wonder – sometimes intriguing, enticing, or tragic. Marina is a wonderful character with a reserved buoyancy that is reversed during her stay in the Amazon. Ann Patchett excels at creating interesting characters with emotional depth that e- or devolves through the stories.
I found the first third of the book a tad long. Marina learns about Anders’ death, has dinner with Mr. Fox, the CEO of the pharmaceutical company and Marina’s lover, and visits Anders’ wife.
Of the characters in the novel, Mr. Fox is the only one I don’t understand. He seems a bit timid for a CEO of a pharmaceutical company and a bit of a wallflower to be Marina’s lover. His obligation to produce an approved drug and make a profit is present, yet he doesn’t appear resolute in his actions.
Towards the ending there is a detail concerning the boy Easter, that I find completely horrific; yet Ann Patchett has chosen to skate over it. It is a surprising twist regarding this beloved character and yet only narrated through a statement of facts.
I would recommend this book to follow bookworms, who enjoy wonderful characters and a masterful plot, with issues relevant in the real world.