The Chemistry of Tears (Vintage International)

The Chemistry of Tears (Vintage International)

Peter Carey

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0307476081

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A Seattle Times Best Book of 2012

When Catherine Gehrig, a museum conservator in London, falls into grief after her lover’s sudden death, her boss gives her a special project. She will bring back to “life” a nineteenth-century mechanical bird. As she begins to piece the automaton together, Catherine also uncovers the diaries of Henry Brandling, who, more than a hundred years prior, had commissioned the bird for his very ill son. Catherine finds resonance and comfort in Henry’s story. But it is the mechanical creature itself, in its uncanny imitation of life, that will link these two people across a century. Through the clockwork bird, Henry and Catherine will confront the mysteries of creation, the power of human invention, and the body’s astonishing chemistry of love and feeling.

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Karlsruhe Kupferstichkabinett; this page silver receipt © The Bowes Museum Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Carey, Peter, date. The chemistry of tears / by Peter Carey.—1st American ed. p. cm. eISBN: 978-0-307-95839-6 1. Women museum curators—Fiction. 2. Brandling, Henry C. (Henry Charles), b. 1818—Fiction. 3. Robots— Fiction. 4. London (England)—Fiction. I. Title. PR9619.3.C36C44 2012 823’.914—dc23 2012005880 This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,

said, and held my gaze. I looked to his older brother. He shook his head. “I’m the designated driver.” When I first met his father, Noah had been in trouble for making a joke about a gay camel. He was just a little boy. He had thought it was funny, that a camel might be gay. The school had different opinions. “Weird, huh?” I called as I poured the whisky in the kitchen. The “huh” sounding so old, so fake. “What?” I fetched a glass of water and delivered this together with the whisky. Angus

fortunate. I said a man could live in London all his life and never see such things. I don’t know why I said this. It was not true. He became excited. He related how he had followed Cruickshank down a narrow staircase where there was a workshop growing “like a shelf fungus” against his house. The sanctus sanctorum was cold, but filled with wonderful lathes and drills and presses and, to one side, a large drawing table where he produced the plans he brought to Bowling Green Lane. Cruickshank

Cliff cup and saucer on the desk beside me. “I had the most awful dusty tea for breakfast.” Why had I said that? Surely I wasn’t going to tell him I had spent the night in a room above a pub? Then it appears I was. Then I had. “For God’s sake, why?” “I wanted to finish reading.” “Which pub?” His questioning gaze embarrassed me. “The Rose and Crown.” “The Youngs’ place with all the sofas in the bar? Up the road?” I thought, he can’t know that Matthew and I slept there for the first time,

the privilege of winding the mechanism for our first proper run-through. When I nod, she releases the pin. As the neck begins its first quite complicated sequence, the Brahms melody accompanies the curious predatory twisting. “Stop.” “No,” cries Eric. “No, no, Catherine, please.” “Did you see that?” I ask Amanda, although of course the old Sing-song has seen it too. “In the first sequence, yes.” We play the first sequence again and there is no doubt there is an irritating shudder in the

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