The Chemistry of Tears

The Chemistry of Tears

Book - 2012
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London 2010. Catherine Gehrig, conservator at the Swinburne museum, learns of the unexpected death of her colleague and lover of 13 years. As the mistress of a married man, she has to grieve in private. Her boss at the museum, aware of Catherine's grief, gives her a special project--to piece together both the mechanics and the story of an extraordinary and eerie automaton. The mechanical creature is a clockwork puzzle, commissioned in 19th-century Germany by an English man, Henry Brandling, as a "magical amusement" for his consumptive son. Linked by the mysterious automaton, Catherine and Henry's stories intertwine across time to explore the mysteries of life and death, the miracle and catastrophe of human invention and the body's astonishing chemistry of love and feeling.

Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, [2012]
Copyright Date: ©2012
ISBN: 9780307361486
9780307361479
Branch Call Number: CAR
Characteristics: 229 pages ; 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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