The Chemistry of Tears

The Chemistry of Tears

Book - 2012
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An automaton, a secret love story, a man and a woman who can never meet, and the fate of the warming world are all brought to incandescent life in this haunting new novel from one of the most admired writers of our time.

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.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2012
ISBN: 9780307361479
Branch Call Number: CAR
Characteristics: 229 p. ;,25 cm

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None of the characters are likable. Catherine is wallowing in her grief as the hidden mistress of a work colleague. Well you were 'cheating' with a married man Catherine, what do you expect when he dies? And you are so prickly and ungrateful for colleagues' attempts to console you. And you are mean to that young assistant. Henry is a Victorian milquetoast from a wealthy family who is caught up in magical thinking. A wind up toy is going to save the life of his fragile son. This might be a tolerable plot line if it was written in the 19th century but it is just annoying as a backdrop to a 21st century story. It is a tedious read!

testBCKCLS Jul 30, 2013

I liked the idea of this book better than the execution. The story jumps back and forth between the present day and the 19th century. The portions set in the present, in which museum conservator and horologist Catherine Gehrig is given special project to help her deal with the grief of losing her lover, are engaging and thoughtfully rendered. The historical sections, in which her project (an automaton modelled on Jacques de Vaucanson's "digesting duck") is first created, are more disjointed, The details about the device, as well as the inner workings of a museum are interesting, but overall this isn't one of Carey's best.

l
l1ill
Jul 11, 2012

I read less than a quarter of the book and returned. Not an easy/mindless read for the summer. Definitely weird!

s
shanauer
Jun 19, 2012

Rather tedious- didn't hold my interest throughout. Just...a little weird, really. And not in a good way.

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Kristin_M_M Feb 15, 2017

"Yes, I felt the absence of my own son - an awful ache - but only love provides the lucky man such symptoms."

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