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The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey
In The Chemistry of Tears, Catherine Gehrig is a horologist at a London museum when her lover suddenly dies. He was a curator at the same museum and a married man, so their 13-year relationship was a secret. Catherine is nearly undone by grief she can't share with anybody. Her boss is the only other person to know her secret, and he gives her a new assignment in hopes the endeavor will save her. She's given a box that supposedly holds the pieces to a copy of Jacques de Vaucanson's mechanical duck, which reportedly would eat grain, digest it, and defecate. Along with the parts to the automaton are the notebooks of Henry Brandling, who commissioned the design of the duck in 1854 in the hopes that it would save his ill son. The duck, designed by a German man who was either mad or a genius, holds the key to Catherine's life, as it did to Henry's. Peter Carey's novel has received mostly positive reviews with the Seattle Times saying, "With Catherine's story, Carey has built us a captivating replica of the most timeless piece of machinery of all - a broken heart."