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State of Wonder: A Novel

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Ann Patchett

Narrated By: Hope Davis

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Date: June 2011

Duration: 12 hours 25 minutes


Ann Patchett has dazzled readers with her award-winning books, including The Magician's Assistant and the New York Times bestselling Bel Canto. Now she raises the bar with State of Wonder, a provocative and ambitious novel set deep in the Amazon jungle.

Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug, the development of which has already cost the company a fortune. Nothing about Marina's assignment is easy: not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marina's research partner Anders Eckman, died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding her former mentor as well as answers to several troubling questions about her friend's death, the state of her company's future, and her own past.

Once found, Dr. Swenson, now in her seventies, is as ruthless and uncompromising as she ever was back in the days of Grand Rounds at Johns Hopkins. With a combination of science and subterfuge, she dominates her research team and the natives she is studying with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices to be made are the ones Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she may still be unable to live up to her teacher's expectations.

In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and a neighboring tribe of cannibals, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss. It is a tale that leads the reader into the very heart of darkness, and then shows us what lies on the other side.


  • Anonymous

    The only other Ann Patchett book I have read was Bel Canto, which I enjoyed immensely, yet the synopsis of State of Wonder left me feeling it was not for me. How wrong I was! I listened to the audiobook, brilliantly read by actress Hope Davis, and was riveted from the first moments. I am, frankly, not the least interested in the Amazon jungle which is why I steered clear of this book for so long, but it was a fascinating backdrop to a story that really grabs you irrespective of its setting. I hate reviews that give things away -- so I'll stop. But I promise you the writing and the story are both top shelf!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful.

  • threemore

    I liked Bel Canto better then this, but it is better then many of her other works.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Dawn H

    The narrator was just ok. Her voice had the same tempo and inflection for everyone except Marina and Dr S. Whether it was the book or the narrator, Marina seemed two dimensional and bland; it was hard to get into the story as half the book was a lead up to meeting Dr S. Still there were moments of great writing and good dialogue sprinkled throughout. Pat hey must’ve had fun creating Dr S; she is a unique character that stayed true to herself until the end. Ah, the end...except for the utterly incongruous sexual tryst, the ending was a creative and satisfying way to wrap up the story.

  • Kristyn L

    Took a little while to get into it but once you do you can't stop listening! Unexpected turnout!!

  • Shireen D

    I was riveted from the first "page". I loved how my loyalties kept shifting and what I thought I knew or judged was altered masterfully. Practically every character has shades of grey. The story was entertaining and the subject matter was, too, even though at first my inclination was that I was in NO way interested in the region or the topic. Wrong. Can't wait to read some of her other books.