Strong Women and Magical Realism

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

What’s it about?
State of Wonder is about a not-young-anymore doctor/pharmaceutical researcher, Dr Marina Singh, whose colleague (Dr Anders Eckman) has gone to the Amazonian rain forest and then died. He’d gone to the Amazon in search of yet another colleague researching a new fertility drug, Dr Anneck Swenson. Dr Swenson’s letter home informing them of his death was on the terse side. Dr Singh has many adventures in her quest to find out what, exactly, happened.

Why should you read it?
Well, you should read it because everyone loves a good quest story. What’s Dr Singh’s stated goal? To find out what happened to Dr Eckman, and what’s going on with Dr Swenson. What’s her actual goal? To get over a traumatic birth where she was the doctor performing an emergency c-section twenty years before.

I enjoyed the relationships between the characters and the strong women and their complexity as people. The men are around, but the women are the main focus. And the city of Manaus, Brazil; it sounds both boring and complex and interesting – her descriptions of it help shape the story.

Also, be aware that this one veers into magical realism a few times. There was a point where I was waiting for the book to reveal that it was all a fever dream brought on by an antimalarial drug. It wasn’t.

I wouldn’t have read this one if it hadn’t been for book club. I’m happy I did.