The Chemistry of Tears

Publisher: Vintage Canada

London 2010. Catherine Gehrig, conservator at the Swinburne museum, learns of the unexpected death of her colleague and lover of 13 years. As the mistress of a married man, she has to grieve in private. Her boss at the museum, aware of Catherine's grief, gives her a special project--to piece together both the mechanics and the story of an extraordinary and eerie automaton. The mechanical creature is a clockwork puzzle, commissioned in 19th-century Germany by an English man, Henry Brandling, as a "magical amusement" for his consumptive son. Linked by the mysterious automaton, Catherine and Henry's stories intertwine across time to explore the mysteries of life and death, the miracle and catastrophe of human invention and the body's astonishing chemistry of love and feeling.


A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
LONGLISTED 2014 – International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

 “This thought-provoking read interlinks raw human passion with complicated puzzling about human ingenuity.... The first page is arresting and shocking and it goes on that way.... Carey’s world is always interesting and thought-provoking.”
—A.S. Byatt, Financial Times
“A heart-rending meditation on grief, love and time.”
The Globe and Mail
“Thrilling…. Such a gifted writer is always worth attending to.”
The New York Times Book Review
“A powerful novel on the frailty of the human body and the emotional life we imbue in machines.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Carey’s exceptional storytelling talents are all on prominent display here.”
The Guardian