The Chemistry of Tears: Book summary and reviews of The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey

The Chemistry of Tears

A Novel

by Peter Carey

The Chemistry of Tears
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  • Published in USA  May 2012
    240 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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

London 2011. Catherine Gehrig, a museum conservator, learns of the death of her colleague and lover of thirteen years. As the mistress of a married man, she must keep her grief a secret. She is rescued by the only person who knew of this affair - her boss. It is he who arranges a project that demands she work in isolation. In deep mourning, she will bring back to "life" a nineteenth-century automaton. Usually controlled and rational, but now mad with sorrow, Catherine discovers a series of notebooks written by Henry Brandling, who, in 1854, commissioned the extraordinary, eerie mechanical creature. Henry's is a personal account of his adventures in the wilds of Germany, a diary that brings Catherine unexpected comfort and wonder. But it is the automaton itself, in its beautiful, uncanny imitation of life, that will link Henry and Catherine, as they are confronted with the mysteries of life and death, the miracle and catastrophe of human invention, and the body's astonishing chemistry of love and feeling.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. ...[A] powerful novel on the frailty of the human body and the emotional life we imbue in machines." - Publishers Weekly

"An A-plus purchase." - Library Journal

"It's a novel that will amuse or challenge some and frustrate others." - Kirkus Reviews

"Mr 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." - The Economist

"Audacious yet restrained, tender yet sardonic, and filled with moments of emotional complexity... A beautifully elegiac hymn to lost love." - Patrick Arlington, Australian Book Review

"A master-class of writing and human insight is to be found in Peter Carey's new novel with its thrillingly off-kilter focus... There is so much powerful human emotion rising from the pages." - Liam Heylin, Irish Examiner

"Masterly historical fiction that both talks about now, and makes the past seem immediate... I loved this book for its mysteries, its hinted back stories, its reserve, and its underlying complexity." - Lucy Daniel, Daily Telegraph

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Author Information

Peter Carey Author Biography

Photo: Maron Ettlinger

Peter Carey was born in 1943, in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Australia.   His parents, who had a General Motors dealership, sent him to Geelong Grammar School, one of the leading private schools, "where the children of Australia's Best Families all spoke with English accents". He studied briefly at Monash University, but left after failing his first year science exams, after which he left to work as a copyrighter in advertisign agencies in Melbourne and London. He started to read passionately, especially the work of Joyce, Beckett, Kafka and Faulkner, and in 1964 he began to write.  He moved to Sydney in 1974 where he continued copyrighting.  His first collection of surreal short stories, War Crimes, was published in 1979, followed by The ...

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