The Gold Bug Variations Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Gold Bug Variations

This is NOT summer beach reading. Powers writes rich, powerful, intellectual novels and this is his masterpiece (so far). Two couples -- a pair of scientists working on the secrets of DNA in 1957 Champaign-Urbana (the woman is already married to someone else), and a reference librarian and computer programmer/art history dropout in New York circa 1982-86 -- fall in love and provide the human quartet that matches the four base constituents of DNA. Bach's "Goldberg Variations" plays a big role in the plot, and to a lesser extent Poe's classic tale of cryptography. Jan O'Deigh, the librarian, is the partial first-person narrator, and a very sharp heroine she is! This novel takes patience and concentration (I've just finished reading it for the second time and still don't get all of it -- maybe never will) but if you give it the attention it requires, it should fill you with wonder and awe at the miracle of life: "Science ... is about reverence, not mastery"; "The purpose of science was to revive and cultivate a perpetual state of wonder."
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The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Chapter Analysis of The Gold Bug Variations

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Plot & Themes

Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Age:    -   20's-30's


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   3 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast    -   Midwest Forest?    -   Yes Prairie?    -   Yes City?    -   Yes City:    -   New York Misc setting    -   scientific labs

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only    -   descript of kissing Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Richard Powers Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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