chemistry of tearsPeter Carey’s THE CHEMISTRY OF TEARS is receiving many favorable reviews globally. Here are a selection of reviews from the U.S., England and Australia. This is definitely one book that should be on your radar. If you’ve had the opportunity to read The Chemistry of Tears we’d love to know your thoughts too. (Send us your reviews at

From the two-time winner of the Booker Prize: 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.

London 2010. 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.

~*~Peter Carey’s will be on a book tour this summer, check out his event calendar to see if he will be coming to a location near you.

Reviews from the States:


“A powerful novel on the frailty of the human body and the emotional life we imbue in machines . . . Catherine and Henry, linked both by the automaton and by grief, ponder questions of life and death, questions that, as posed by Carey, are more fascinating than any solution.”


            —Publishers Weekly (starred, pick of the week)


“An excellent novel . . . Its ambition is considerable . . . The appeal of science might lie in its promise to solve the world’s most difficult problems, but Carey’s achievement with The Chemistry of Tears is, by means of a story about science, to depict our most taxing problems in their full insolubility.”


            —Tom Perrin, The National


“Wonderful . . . This deeply moving, intellectually profound novel on the heartbreaking grief of ‘living machines’ tells the story of the essential human desire to return to the individual Edens that we inhabited before we knew about the unavoidable pain of our mechanical lives . . . Beautifully told.”


            —Minsoo Kang, Nature


“Carey is a bewitching storyteller preternaturally attuned to our endless struggles over love and eccentric obsessions . . . This [is a] fairy tale within a fairy tale rife with historical and literary allusions . . . Raises provocative questions about life, death, and memory and our power to create and destroy . . . Gripping.”


            —Donna Seaman, Booklist


Reviews from the UK:


“Few writers manage so consistently and delightfully as Peter Carey to conjure wondrous scenes populated with idiosyncratic yet credible characters. The Chemistry of Tears does not disappoint . . . 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 . . . A wholly enjoyable journey.”


            —The Economist


“It is a unique combination of raw human passion and complicated puzzling about human ingenuity . . . Carey creates Catherine’s lonely and obsessive misery so brilliantly . . . She is completely convincing . . . Carey’s world is always interesting and thought-provoking.”


            —A. S. Byatt, Financial Times


“Carey manages these time-shifts and other complications with the same easy-seeming mastery that he shows in all his novels. But here the fluency seems especially apt, because it is always devoted to the service of machines that themselves depend on being cunningly assembled and delightful. In other words, there is an immaculate fit of means with themes . . . Carey has tackled some of these ideas before (the most obvious precursor to the construction of machines in this book is the transportation of the church in Oscar and Lucinda). But here everything has been designed, tooled, oiled, and fitted together with greater economy and an equal panache. Does this mean the book ends too neatly? No. Even as it settles its main concerns, it floats new ideas, and emphasises latent themes.”


            —Andrew Motion, The Guardian


“Carey’s exceptional storytelling talents are all on prominent display here. Catherine’s and Henry’s voices are lustily generated and expertly distinguished from one another; contemporary London and 19th-century Germany are conveyed in lightly distributed yet powerfully evocative physical detail; both narratives are invigorated throughout by a thrilling verbal energy, and an almost unfailing knack for alighting on the mot juste. These are precisely the qualities that have always characterised Carey’s novels, and which have twice made him an eminently deserving winner of the Booker Prize.”


            —Edmund Gordon, The Observer


“A story that’s as ingenious as any piece of clockwork . . . Carey evokes the Brothers Grimm atmosphere of the Black Forest with extraordinary skill. [There’s] a lot of fascinating information too . . . imparted painlessly and with enormous ingenuity. It’s enlivened by flashes of illuminating description and comedy . . . There is also an enticing sharpness in the language . . . Beautifully made, entertaining, and comic.”


            —Brian Lynch, Irish Independent


The Chemistry of Tears [is] alive with the evocation of place and period that is always Carey’s forte . . . Damage done by mankind’s mechanical creativeness is highlighted in a novel by one of the present day’s most unconventionally creative writers. Oddball characters are propelled along by zigzagging narrative channels, connections made with whimsical aplomb. As always, too, everything is burnished with vitalisingly poetic images. The Chemistry of Tears isn’t only about life and inventiveness: it overflows with them.”


            —Peter Kemp, Sunday Times



Reviews from Australia:


“A beautifully elegiac hymn to lost love . . . Audacious yet restrained, tender yet sardonic, and filled with moments of emotional complexity.” 


—Patrick Allington, Australian Book Review 


“This is a comic novel [but] also a serious examination of love and loss and grief and obsession and how we manage to keep going even when all clocks have stopped.” 


—Stephen Romei, The Spectator


The Chemistry of Tears is at once exuberant and chastening in its portrayal of loss . . . Shows the playful side of Peter Carey at full stretch.” 


—Peter Pierce, Canberra Times


“This is a brilliant book, full of secrets, mystery, grief and love . . . Impossible to put down . . . A beautiful, complex narrative.” 


—Lizzie Stafford, Sunday Mail (Brisbane)


“Peter Carey [is] a consummate storyteller, vastly and raucously entertaining.”


—Andrew Riemer, Sydney Morning Herald


 “Carey’s latest book is just as beautifully written and entertaining as its predecessors. Written in his signature style, moving and witty at the same time, his narrative takes hold right from the beginning and maintains its pace throughout . . . Profoundly moving but leavened with Carey’s characteristic whimsical humour together with his refined and polished narrative style, this is a most delightful read.”


—Mary Ann Elliott, The Chronicle

 PETER CAREY is the author of eleven previous novels and has twice received the Booker Prize. His other honors include the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Born in Australia, he has lived in New York City for twenty years.

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