Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey - Book Review

Title: The Chemistry of Tears
Author: Peter Carey
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 271
Format: Hardback
Genre: Literary Fiction

Source: Xmas Gift

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When Catherine Gehrig, a museum conservator and clock expert, finds out that her very married lover of thirteen years has dropped dead, she has keep her grief a secret. But with no outlet other than vodka, her sorrow is close to driving the hyper-rational Catherine mad. The only person who knew of their affair--her boss--tries to distract and rescue her by giving her a project that demands all of her attention: the reconstruction of an elaborate nineteenth-century automaton. In the crates containing its bits and pieces, Catherine discovers a series of notebooks written by Henry Brandling, who, in 1854, commissioned the extraordinary, eerie mechanical creature in an attempt to bring joy to his consumptive little son. Henry's is a personal account of his adventures in the wilds of Germany, a diary that brings Catherine unexpected comfort, fellow feeling and wonder. But it is the automaton itself, in its beautiful, uncanny imitation of life, that links Henry's life to Catherine's, as both are confronted with the miracle and catastrophe of human invention, and the body's astonishing chemistry of love and feeling. (Goodreads Synopsis)

This is one of those books that really stays with you long after you close the final page.
The storyline is intriguing and the characters are interesting and engaging. In particular, I liked the way the two storylines wove into one another, more and more as the book progressed.

This is a highly readable piece. Sure, it does leave the reader with a lot of unsolved questions, but I believe that element of mystery is what really adds depth to the piece and I, for one, did not mind that the full truth will never be known.

This is masterful storytelling and should please any literary fiction fan.

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