Peter Carey: The Chemistry of Tears
The Chemistry of Tears
Faber and Faber
Catherine’s married lover, Matthew, is “dead, and no one told me”. A horologist at the Swinburne Museum in London, she finds solace from her secret grief in the restoration of a mysterious 19th-century German automaton. As she pieces together the cogs and gears of what turns out to be a beautiful swan, she becomes consumed by the story of its creator, Henry Brandling, and the sickly son for whom the swan was intended. Narrating in turn through Catherine and then Henry, Carey intertwines their stories to construct an examination of love and loss as delicate and precise as the most complicated clockwork mechanism. A member of the exclusive club of double Man Booker winners, Carey is renowned for evocative re-creations of time and place, and his depiction of a Grimm brothers Black Forest, where industrialisation mingles with fables and fairy tales, is as memorable as any of his prizewinning creations. An entertaining, accomplished and unforgettable tale.