SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORANGE PRIZE FOR FICTION 2012 There were people on the banks of the river.
Among the tangled waterways and giant anacondas of the Brazilian Rio Negro, an enigmatic scientist is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women for ever.
Dr Annick Swenson's work is shrouded in mystery; she refuses to report on her progress, especially to her investors, whose patience is fast running out. Anders Eckman, a mild-mannered lab researcher, is sent to investigate.
A curt letter reporting his untimely death is all that returns.
Now Marina Singh, Anders' colleague and once a student of the mighty Dr Swenson, is their last hope.
Compelled by the pleas of Anders's wife, who refuses to accept that her husband is not coming home, Marina leaves the snowy plains of Minnesota and retraces her friend's steps into the heart of the South American darkness, determined to track down Dr. Swenson and uncover the secrets being jealously guarded among the remotest tribes of the rainforest. What Marina does not yet know is that, in this ancient corner of the jungle, where the muddy waters and susurrating grasses hide countless unknown perils and temptations, she will face challenges beyond her wildest imagination.
Marina is no longer the student, but only time will tell if she has learnt enough.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 400 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- Publication Date: 26/04/2012
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781408821886
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by Helenliz
There's a lot to like in this book. The writing is beautiful and sections of it are almost seductive in a way that leaves you soothed and calm. There's a mixture of hope and expectation and also melancholy. Marina Singh gets sent to the Amazon to chase up on a researcher who's being paid by her company and isn't quite so keen on keeping them updated. She's also trying to trace her colleague, who was sent on the same mission some months ago, but has now been reported dead. the first section is told very much with Marina & her company's view point in prominent position - Dr Swenson isn't playing ball, the company is paying her (not quite from the goodness of its heart, but with honourable intentions projected) and she's not telling them what's going on. Dr Swenson also has a past connection with Marina, which Marina fails to mention, partly as it doesn't reflect well on her either. but once Marina gets to the Amazon, she's held up by a couple that are clearly protecting Dr Swenson and keeping her location secret. Now the dynamic shifts and it's the big bad pharma company trying to rape the Amazon of its riches and the poor, hard working, noble Dr Swenson is doing her best. Again the scene shifts once Marina actually gets to the research site. And this is where I think the book really shines. There are so many laers gradually revealed, and each shows the previous positions as fabrications, the truth is always more complicated. There are moral and ethical issues at play here, with some vastly conflicting views being presented. Marina takes a proactive view of what a doctor should do in this situation, whereas Dr Swenson is very much more distant, but has a justifiable reason for taking that stance. I felt the ending was, if anything, rushed. Suddenly you're from the jungle to Minnesota in a few pages and some things are left hanging in the breeze. It wasn't the ending I expected, I also thought it was, in some regards, a bit too neat and tidy, but I certainly didn't see it coming. I liked this, in places I liked this a lot, but I didn't love it.
Review by kinsey_m
I didn't love it. The book is well researched, at least on the pharmaceutical side, and it appears to be on other levels too.However, there is something missing. There is just too much distance between the reader and the characters, and while some of them are well characterized (the Bovenders, Dr Swenson, Marina, even Milton), there are some characters or relationships that are quite important and feel too flat (What does Marina see in Mr Fox? Does she really love him? Is Marina so detached from her living and friends family that she almost doesn't think about them in all the trip? Was she that close to Anders? It doesn't feel like it to me).
Review by KittyBimble
** spoiler alert ** FINALLY! Finally, I finished this book. It took me about a month and a half and that was down to some serious flaws of this book. Flaws aside, this book has some of the most vivid imagery and lush descriptions of the amazon. For the description alone, this book was a real treat and really fed the imagination. This however, is the only positive I could give this book.The plot at first seemed interesting, and gripping. But what followed was so slowly paced, I felt like I was going backwards in some places. It didnt really get interesting until chapter 9 (there are 11 in total). The chapter themselves are very long, and just due to personal preference I like chapters to be shorter so it breaks the book down into chunks into which you can dip in and out of the book easily if you so wish. The earlier chapters were so dull that reading the incredibly long chapters seemed too much of a cognitive effort, hence the book took me a month to read.I also was bitterly disappointed at the random sex encounter of Marina and Dr Eckman at the end of the book. What the frig? that made no sense at all!! Hands down, the most random way to end a book ever - it ruined it for me personally.All in all, a nice book but too slowly paced for my liking.