I bought Ann Patchett's novel, State of Wonder, yesterday and finished it today. It was that good that I didn't put it down till I had read it all. I liked the exotic setting and fell for the story of one scientist trying to discover the details and reason for the death of another in the jungles of the Amazon.
A pharmacologist Marina Singh is sent by her company in Minnesota to Brazil to find a reclusive scientist and researcher, Annick Swenson, her former medical school professor who is doing drug research deep in the Amazon jungles. Marina is supposed to report on the progress of Annick's research on fertility for the drug company, research that has already taken many years and a lot of funding. Marina is also on a more personal mission, to discover the facts behind the death of another employee of the drug company who had recently traveled to the Amazon to check on Annick.
It seems to me that the novel has some serious questions about the value of some research done by drug companies - questionable drugs that may not be needed or advisable, for a limited group of people, versus drugs for more serious and immediate health problems for a larger demographic. There is also a contrast between cold, hard research and the human considerations that must be taken into account when you deal with the lives of real people.
The plot and setting are very imaginative, the characters memorable, and the questions the novel addresses are good food for thought. I loved Bel Canto, Pachett's award-winning novel, and I liked this one as well.
The book is also reviewed by Tales from the Reading Room, Home Between the Pages, and My Porch.
Killer Librarian, a debut cozy mystery by Mary Lou Kirwin. Minnesota librarian Karen Nash becomes a sleuth on a literary tour of London when she realizes an assassin has targeted her former boyfriend and his lady friend, who have also traveled to London.
Apart from reading, I baked beer bread for the first time today, adding raisins and dried cranberries for a little tartness and sweetness. Not bad for a test run. I'm thinking of making more tasty breads for Christmas gifts!
What are you reading this week?