In the High Peaks

Saturday, July 9, 2011

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Today has been one of the nicest summer days I can ever remember. Temps in the low 70s; a very cool, brisk north wind; full sunshine that warms but doesn't overheat; all flies and bugs to a minimum. Summer would be my favorite season if everyday were like today. I explored, I wandered, I hiked up and down in my woods and neighboring hills and fields, and every new sight was a wonder.

I could have finished State of Wonder by Ann Patchett today, but stopped myself short of 60 pages. (Follow the previous link to an excellent review, a book excerpt, and an interview with Patchett.) I don't want it to end! Tomorrow, maybe tomorrow, my psyche can deal with the book's ending, but not today. I'm not ready to let go. It's been a stellar read. Patchett is a magician--her plot and sub-plots, settings, and characters are so deep, so pleasurable, so exciting. This is a top-ten book of the year, for certain. To all the foremost American book critics, I want to say, "I dare you to find fault with this book. I dare you! And if you do, you will be getting disagreeable mail from me.

But you're right: I absolutely do not gravitate toward books set in the Amazon. Equatorial rainforest locales do not turn me on. I avoid them. But like the exquisitely rendered The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, even a novel set in the depths of the Congo can be transcendent. And so it is with State of Wonder.

I cannot give this book a higher rating. Top-billing!


  1. I'm glad you loved it to the nearly end. By the way, last January, I read another book on the Amazon region. It is non-fiction, but it's also about going to figure out what happened to a guy who disappeared there. It reads like a mystery, a great page turner. It's called the Lost City of Z. I wanted to mention it in my review of State of Wonder, but I forgot, I'll edit that. My review is here if you want to have a look:

  2. What a review! Makes me want to pick it up immediately. She is a writer I have been meaning to read for such a long time. It has been a while since I stopped before finishing a book because I liked it so much. It is a wonderful experience when it happens.

  3. Words and Peace and Caroline,
    The ending of State of Wonder did not disappoint, not in the slightest. I'll be recommending this book to everyone I know.

    I bought the Lost City of Z for a cousin at Christmas a couple of years ago, and I'll put it on my list, thank you!


  4. I really enjoyed the novel, but I had a big problem with Marina's character. She was kind of a blank slate at best.

    My thoughts are here: