Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Chemistry of Tears-Peter Carey

The Chemistry of Tears

Peter Carey

Knopf, May 15 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780307592712

In 2010 London, Swinburne Museum Horologist Catherine Gehrig finds out her married lover of thirteen years, Head Curator of Metals, Matthew Tindall died from a heart attack. Catherine knows she must hide her grief so that her late beloved’s name is not smeared for the sake of his two sons. Her sympathetic boss Head Curator of Horology Eric “Crafty” Crofty says he will arrange the deletion of personal email using the office account and assigns to work at the Annexe so that no one in the Museum proper will notice her anguish.

He assigns her to revive an avian automaton. Catherine begins to fix the precise clockwork machine while also discovering eleven notebooks written in 1854 by the first owner, Henry Brandling; who had it built by Germans as a distraction for his son Percy suffering from consumption. Catherine finds solace in Brandling’s journals and with the automaton he had made for his child.

This is a powerful story of love and grief as a century and a half apart; two people connected by a mechanical swan mourn their losses. Rotating between Catherine’s saga and Henry’s notebooks, readers will appreciate this terrific character driven poignant tale as grieving individuals seek objects to personify their loss who they will always love.

Harriet Klausner

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