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 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.
Publisher: Random House Canada, 2012
Description: 229 p. ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9780307361479
Branch Call Number: Care

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Loved it. Written in short chapters alternating between a current day character as she deals with the death of a lover, and the diary entries of a historical character she studies as she mourns this loss. Very human and the parts that are withheld were as important to me as those included. (submitted by TH)

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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