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The Chemistry of Tears
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2012
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An automaton, a man and a woman who can never meet, two stories of love—all are brought to incandescent life in this hauntingly moving novel from one of the finest writers of our time. 
London 2010: Catherine Gehrig, conservator at the Swinburne museum, learns of the sudden death of her colleague and lover of thirteen years. As the mistress of a married man, she must struggle to keep the depth of her anguish to herself. The one other person who knows Catherine’s secret—her boss—arranges for her to be given a special project away from prying eyes in the museum’s Annexe. Usually controlled and rational, but now mad with grief, Catherine reluctantly unpacks an extraordinary, eerie automaton that she has been charged with bringing back to life.
As she begins to piece together the clockwork puzzle, she also uncovers a series of notebooks written by the mechanical creature’s original owner: a nineteenth-century Englishman, Henry Brandling, who traveled to Germany to commission it as a magical amusement for his consumptive son. But it is Catherine, nearly two hundred years later, who will find comfort and wonder in Henry’s story. And it is the automaton, in its beautiful, uncanny imitation of life, that will link two strangers confronted with the mysteries of creation, the miracle and catastrophe of human invention, and the body’s astonishing chemistry of love and feeling.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/15/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307958396
ASIN:
B0067TGT3A

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Peter Carey. (2012). The Chemistry of Tears. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Peter Carey. 2012. The Chemistry of Tears. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Peter Carey, The Chemistry of Tears. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Peter Carey. The Chemistry of Tears. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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      • bioText: PETER CAREY is the author of eleven previous novels and has twice received the Booker Prize. His other honors include the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Born in Australia, he has lived in New York City for twenty years.
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title
The Chemistry of Tears
fullDescription
An automaton, a man and a woman who can never meet, two stories of love—all are brought to incandescent life in this hauntingly moving novel from one of the finest writers of our time. 
London 2010: Catherine Gehrig, conservator at the Swinburne museum, learns of the sudden death of her colleague and lover of thirteen years. As the mistress of a married man, she must struggle to keep the depth of her anguish to herself. The one other person who knows Catherine’s secret—her boss—arranges for her to be given a special project away from prying eyes in the museum’s Annexe. Usually controlled and rational, but now mad with grief, Catherine reluctantly unpacks an extraordinary, eerie automaton that she has been charged with bringing back to life.
As she begins to piece together the clockwork puzzle, she also uncovers a series of notebooks written by the mechanical creature’s original owner: a nineteenth-century Englishman, Henry Brandling, who traveled to Germany to commission it as a magical amusement for his consumptive son. But it is Catherine, nearly two hundred years later, who will find comfort and wonder in Henry’s story. And it is the automaton, in its beautiful, uncanny imitation of life, that will link two strangers confronted with the mysteries of creation, the miracle and catastrophe of human invention, and the body’s astonishing chemistry of love and feeling.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: The Economist (UK)
      • content: "Few writers manage so consistently and delightfully as Peter Carey to conjure wondrous scenes populated with idiosyncratic yet credible characters. The Chemistry of Tears does not disappoint . . . Carey is one of the finest living writers in English. His best books satisfy both intellectually and emotionally; he is lyrical yet never forgets the imperative to entertain . . . A wholly enjoyable journey."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Independent (UK)
      • content: "Characters that beguile and convince, prose that dances or is as careful as poetry, an inventive plot that teases and makes the heart quicken or hurt, paced with masterly precision, yet with a space for the ideas to breathe and expand in dialogue with the reader, unusual settings of place and time: this tender tour de force of the imagination succeeds on all fronts."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly (starred, pick of the week)
      • content: "A powerful novel on the frailty of the human body and the emotional life we imbue in machines . . . Catherine and Henry, linked both by the automaton and by grief, ponder questions of life and death, questions that, as posed by Carey, are more fascinating than any solution."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Observer (UK)
      • content: "Carey's exceptional storytelling talents are all on prominent display here. Catherine's and Henry's voices are lustily generated and expertly distinguished from one another; contemporary London and 19th-century Germany are conveyed in lightly distributed yet powerfully evocative physical detail; both narratives are invigorated throughout by a thrilling verbal energy, and an almost unfailing knack for alighting on the mot juste. These are precisely the qualities that have always characterised Carey's novels, and which have twice made him an eminently deserving winner of the Booker Prize."
      • premium: False
      • source: A. S. Byatt, Financial Times (UK)
      • content: "Carey's world is always interesting and thought-provoking . . . It is a unique combination of raw human passion and complicated puzzling about human ingenuity . . . Completely convincing."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Chronicle (Australia)
      • content: "Carey's latest book is just as beautifully written and entertaining as its predecessors. Written in his signature style, moving and witty at the same time, his narrative takes hold right from the beginning and maintains its pace throughout . . . Profoundly moving but leavened with Carey's characteristic whimsical humour together with his refined and polished narrative style, this is a most delightful read."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Guardian (UK)
      • content: "Carey [demonstrates] the same easy-seeming mastery that he shows in all his novels. But here the fluency seems especially apt, because it is always devoted to the service of machines that themselves depend on being cunningly assembled and delightful. In other words, there is an immaculate fit of means with themes."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Express (UK)
      • content: "A tender novel of secrets, sorrow, and heartache . . . Carey writes like a dream. His twelfth novel is a compelling cocktail or beautiful prose, emotional complexity, and impressive ingenuity."
      • premium: False
      • source: Irish Independent
      • content: "Beautifully made, entertaining, and comic . . . A story that's as ingenious as any piece of clockwork."
      • premium: False
      • source: Daily Telegraph (UK)
      • content: "I loved this book . . . It is not an exaggeration to say that Peter Carey has given new meaning to the term 'historical fiction' . . . Impressively, he continues to produce another masterclass every couple of years."
      • premium: False
      • source: Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Australia)
      • content: "This is a brilliant book, full of secrets, mystery, grief and love . . . Impossible to put down."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from April 23, 2012
        After the sudden death of her married lover, London museum conservator Catherine Gehrig channels her grief into the task of restoring a 19th-century automaton, in Carey’s powerful novel on the frailty of the human body and the emotional life we imbue in machines. Catherine, a horologist at the Swinburne Museum, and curator Matthew Tindall carried on a secret affair for 13 years. After Matthew dies of a heart attack, Catherine’s boss assigns her a project in the Swinburne Annex, away from the gossip. Numb with heartache, she’s uncharacteristically uninterested in opening eight sealed tea chests until the day of her lover’s funeral, when she discovers inside the chests 11 notebooks filled by Englishman Henry Brandling in 1854. The narrative then shifts to Henry’s point-of-view with his discovery of the inventor Vaucanson’s plans for a mechanical duck, just the thing, Henry thinks, to make his young consumptive son, Percy, happy. He travels to Germany in search of a master clockmaker, and Carey (Parrot and Olivier in America) alternates between present-day Catherine’s progress with repairing the avian automaton and Henry’s notebooks, about which Catherine becomes more obsessed as Henry meets a mysterious and potentially dangerous craftsman who promises to build him his “heart’s desire.” Catherine and Henry, linked both by the automaton and by grief, ponder questions of life and death, questions that, as posed by Carey, are more fascinating than any solution. Agent: Amada Urban, ICM.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        May 1, 2012
        A puzzling novel that doesn't reveal its secrets easily. The latest from the renowned and prolific Carey (Parrot and Olivier in America, 2010, etc.) is too fanciful to pass as realism yet too inscrutable for parable or fable. Though all of it (or at least half of it) concerns a grieving woman's attempt to re-engage with life after the death of her married lover, the prevailing spirit is comedic, even whimsical, rather than tragic. And the prevailing metaphor is that of clockwork, the mechanical precision of the museum where she serves as a curator, with "a considerable horological department, a world-famous collection of clocks and watches, automata and other wind-up engines," a place where "for years I thought clockmaking must still any turmoil in one's breast. I was so confident of my opinion, so completely wrong." To keep protagonist and occasional narrator Catherine from going haywire, her supervisor assigns her an archival task: to study the diaries of a man who had commissioned a mechanical duck for his ailing son more than a century earlier. Some chapters are all Catherine, some are from the diaries of Henry and his adventures with the mechanical duck, and some mix the two, though the reader must make leaps of conjecture to connect the writing of Henry and the response from Catherine. Then the plot thickens, as it appears that the circumstances surrounding her affair were more complicated than Catherine had realized, and she comes to suspect that the pages she reads were written specifically for her: "He anticipated someone would watch him through the wormhole, that was clear. He wrote for that person." While reading about the attempts to construct a mechanical duck that would appear animated, practically alive, Catherine feels herself turning into a machine: "Ingest, I thought, digest, excrete, repeat." For what it's worth, the thematic key would seem to be a Latin epigram, which translates, "You cannot see what you can see." It's a novel that will amuse or challenge some and frustrate others.

        COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        December 1, 2011

        Twice a Booker Prize winner and a Commonwealth and Miles Franklin honoree as well, the incomparable Carey returns with a story of secret grief assuaged. A museum conservator in London, Catherine learns that her lover and colleague has died but hides her pain because he was a married man. Her boss, the only person who knew of her affair, seeks to help by having her work alone on a project involving a 19th-century automaton. When she discovers the diaries of Henry Brandling, the man who built the automaton, she enters into an understanding of the desire for invention, the magic of creation, and the healing power of love. An A-plus purchase.

        Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        April 1, 2012
        Carey (Parrot & Olivier in America, 2010) is a bewitching storyteller preternaturally attuned to our endless struggles over love and eccentric obsessions. In this fairy tale within a fairy tale rife with historical and literary allusions, Catherine, a horologist (an expert in the science and instruments of measuring time) on the staff of a London museum, is mad with grief after the sudden death of her married lover and struggles to focus on the new restoration project her sympathetic boss hopes will comfort her. She does become enthralled by the notebooks of Henry Brandling, a wealthy nineteenth-century Englishman who went to Germany to commission an automaton for his ailing son, only to come under the spell of Sumper, a hulking, vehement inventor who may be a thief, brute, genius, or all three. As she unfolds Henry's mysterious ordeal, Catherine meticulously reconstructs Sumper's elaborate, mechanized wonder, work complicated by her increasing fears about her possibly deranged assistant. Set during the Gulf oil crisis and reminiscent of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007) in its linkage of a rescued automaton and loneliness, Carey's gripping, if at times overwrought, fable raises provocative questions about life, death, and memory and our power to create and destroy. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Two-time Booker Prize winner Carey's sterling reputation, a hefty first printing, and the novel's echo of the book behind the Oscar-winning film Hugo make this a hot title.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

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An automaton, a man and a woman who can never meet, two stories of love—all are brought to incandescent life in this hauntingly moving novel from one of the finest writers of our time. 
London 2010: Catherine Gehrig, conservator at the Swinburne museum, learns of the sudden death of her colleague and lover of thirteen years. As the mistress of a married man, she must struggle to keep the depth of her anguish to herself. The one other person who knows Catherine’s secret—her boss—arranges for her to be given a special project away from prying eyes in the museum’s Annexe. Usually controlled and rational, but now mad with grief, Catherine reluctantly unpacks an extraordinary, eerie automaton that she has been charged with bringing back to life.
As she begins to piece together the clockwork puzzle, she also uncovers a series of notebooks written by the mechanical creature’s original owner: a nineteenth-century Englishman, Henry...
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