Prompt Proofing Reviews State of Wonder by Ann Patchett -- Patchett's novel weaves many threads, introducing some richly drawn characters, and raises many different ethical questions. --
VANCOUVER, BC, March 28, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- One can interpret the title in many ways - the Brazilian rainforest and its wildlife could indeed be described as a state of wonder but the title also refers to the childlike innocence of the primitive Lakashi people, uninfluenced and uncorrupted by the modern world.
Marina is sent by her boss - with whom she has more than a professional relationship - to track down Dr Swenson, an eccentric scientist who has apparently discovered a drug that will enable women to remain fertile into their sixties or even seventies. There is a slight sense of the 'old woman who swallowed a fly then swallowed a spider to catch the fly', etc. as Marina is following in the tracks of her colleague, Anders, who never returned from his own expedition to find the elusive Dr. Swenson. He died after arriving in the Amazon, leaving behind a wife and children in Minnesota. Like Anders, Marina eventually becomes enthralled by the 'state of wonder', finding it difficult to leave the rainforest.
Patchett's novel weaves many threads, introducing some richly drawn characters, and raises many different ethical questions. Is fertility continuing into old age truly a benefit? What responsibility do big drug companies have for their research and its effects? Should primitive people remain 'undisturbed' by visitors from the sophisticated world of the twenty-first century Americas, even if this means they die needlessly when modern medicine could easily save them? Is it right to 'rescue' a child from his natural parents if he benefits from the transition, or right for him to be returned to a birth mother of whom he has no knowledge and separated from the adoptive 'parent' he now loves?
By the end of the novel, the reader is left to ponder many issues.
The ending brings a number of unexpected twists - possibly stretching the reader's credibility - and leaves almost as many questions as it answers.
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