State of Wonder by Ann Patchett was one of the favorite books that I read in 2011.
Marina Sinh works for the Vogel Pharmaceutical Company in Eden Prairie Minnesota. She is sent to the jungles of Brazil to check the progress Dr. Annik Swenson’s research project. Dr. Swenson is researching the post-menopausal fertility of the women of the Lakashi tribe. These women are bearing children well into their 70’s and even older. Dr. Swenson has been in the Amazon for many years without reporting on her progress. Marina also has a personal reason to accept the assignment. Her lab partner, Anders Eckman, was sent on the same assignment months earlier and never returned. The Company received a brief message from Dr. Swenson stating he had died of a fever. Marina wants to find out more details for herself and his grieving widow.
This novel takes the reader into the Amazon jungle. Marina arrives at her final destination on a pontoon boat. She is minus her luggage which the airlines lost and never found. She finds herself in an area of snake infested rivers, malarial swamps and cannibals.
As always in Ann Patchett’s novels there are many interesting characters, from the bohemian couple who seem to protect Dr. Swenson from outsiders to Dr. Swenson herself. This is also a novel with many surprises, an amazing journey for the reader.