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Servants of the Map: Stories Paperback – February 17, 2003
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Fans of Barrett's earlier books (the sublime Ship Fever and Voyage of the Narwhal) will delight in tracing the stories and characters that wind in and out of these three books, producing the sense of something lovely, ongoing, and whole. In the final story, Elizabeth finds consolation in her work caring for tubercular patients--"as if, in the order and precarious harmony of this house and those it shelters she might, for all that gets lost in this life, at last have found a cure." The same might be said of science, and of Barrett's art. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The opening title story of SERVANTS OF THE MAP starts us off well. The Great Trigonometrical Survey of India begun in the mid 19th century was a grand exercise of mapping the sub-continent. The map contours of interest were the peaks and valleys of the "still to be named" mountains of northern India. We meet Max Vignes, a draughtsman who when not sketching the details of what would later be the Himalayas, was looking down and passionately observing plants, leaves, and lichen. Max is obsessed with botany and the real mapping done by Barrett is of the contours of Max's heart. We see him torn between his love for his wife Clare and his two daughters and his all consuming scientific enthrallment with plants.
This is just the first story and yet Barrett's technique of interweaving the real and the imagined, and her theme of scientific enquiry juxtaposed against the demands of the human heart, are both already fully developed and flowering. She goes on to explore this some more with "Two Rivers" where academically inclined Samuel seeks to disprove all non-theological explanations for fossils. We are transported to the world of emerging Darwinism and Barrett uses Samuel to investigate the inner difficulty of reconciling oneself to change and adapting to a new world-view. It's an issue that has as much resonance today as it did in Samuel's world of 100 years ago.Read more ›
Andrea Barrett has a great ability when it comes to developing characters. From Max Vigne, a hard working member of a mapping expedition in the area of Northern India in the title story, Servant of the Map" to his wife Clara that makes a major appearance in the final story "The Cure", all her characters are real. Almost real enough, it seems, to reach out and touch.
Each story stands on its own. But the way Ms Barrett weaves the stories together if fabulous. The final story, by the way, is connected to her book, Voyage of the Narwhal. Ned Kynd, an inn keeper in the "The Cure" played a major role in the novel.
I think readers appreciate these connections with past reads. It shows that the author respects the intelligence of the reader and isn't afraid to say that perhaps that story wasn't quite finished.
Finally, Barrett is a wonderful story teller. One can read along in any of these stories and almost take for granted what one is reading. Then all of a sudden a major twist in the story, or some new development with the character, or a connection with something you've read before.
Read this book.
In the second story, The Forest, as well as its companion, The Mysteries of Ubiquitin, opposing characters are quietly clashing almost all the time. Imagine two people, polar opposites, totally disgrunteled with each other, sitting comfortably on a patio near a swimming pool.
I can not recommend this book more emphatically. For those of you who are scared of short stories... stop, and read this book. In those blank spaces between the stories, a larger more wonderous world is created than in most novels I've recently read, including those busting over the 1000 page barrier. This one, you'll want to reread simply to give your imagination another Andrea Barret boost!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved the writing style and subjects. If you are interested in the history of natural sciences you will love it.Published 3 months ago by Rebecca Garbett
Title story draws you into a man's mind, closely observed, fully appreciated, but from a distinctly female perspective. Infinite compassion, a surprise.Published 19 months ago by J. Brenzel
This is a special book of six short stories (with one of them approaching novella-hood). The stories all feature people engaged in the pursuit of science in one form or another,... Read morePublished on March 12, 2014 by R. M. Peterson
As described, arrived quickly, love the paperback format. I like historical fiction and this fits the bill. It is perfect.Published on October 31, 2013 by Tumarsh
I've not read anything else by Andrea Barrett. Other reviewers make references to other of her books that from the descriptions given I may not like. Read morePublished on May 17, 2011 by hal96a
I thought that I would like this book of short stories better than I did. The subject matter, natural history, is one of great interest to me, however I found the stories a bit... Read morePublished on June 17, 2009 by Jennifer Osterman
If you plan to read only one book by Andrea Barrett, let it be this one. Most of the main characters in these stories are related by blood or marriage to those in some of her other... Read morePublished on January 17, 2008 by Julee Rudolf
I had read the description and thought it sounded interesting; upon reading it I am transported into a wonderful place of serene adoration of this book. Read morePublished on January 4, 2008 by Karina Montgomery
I enjoyed the "Narwhal". That led me to believe I might have a good book here. I began reading and found a very sick image of male sexuality. Read morePublished on July 27, 2006 by John Patton