Patchett’s Revenge

In Friday’s New York Times, Janet Maslin took Ann Patchett’s new book, State of Wonder, to task for taking too long to “hit its stride,” (although, by the end, Maslin admits the book is “up to the level of Ms. Patchett’s usual work”). She also doesn’t think much of the basic premise, about an American researcher in the Amazon, working on a new fertility drug (in the book, the work is referred to as “Lost Horizons for American ovaries”), calling it “a little too loony to be taken seriously.”

But don’t be put off by that; subsequent reviews have been stellar:

NPR; An Amazon Adventure, Replete With Love, ‘Wonder’ — “[Patchett is] back in form with her mesmerizing sixth novel…”

Salon, Laura Milller, “State of Wonder”: Dueling doctors in the Amazon — “With audacity and ambition, Ann Patchett has transfigured the story line of Heart of Darkness by setting it in the present day and turning both the seeker and the sought after into women.”

L.A. Times, Carolyn Kellog, Review — Kellog explores the themes of the book and notes it drags a bit towards the middle, but calls it an “exciting mystery” that “speeds to a close” by the end.

The Telegraph (UK), Helen Brown, Review — This is by one of the few reviewers that didn’t think much of Patchett’s bestseller, Bel Canto, but says State of Wonder “really is something special.”

People (6/15 issue, pg. 61; review not currently available online) — People not only bestows 4 of a possible 4 stars on the book, but makes it a “People Pick,” and gives readers fair warning, “Reading this book will cause you to call in sick, cancel all plans and return to page one upon completion.”

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