Monday, August 9, 2010

Review: Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese

Challenge 5: Title Word Count

Challenge description: Go to and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the numbers 1 for the min. and 5 for the max. and then hit generate. Find a book to read that has that number of words in the title. Read the book and write about it.
My number was 3.

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese

"After eight months spent in the obscurity of our mother's womb, my brother, Shiva, and I came into the world in the late afternoon of the twentieth of September in the year of grace 1954."

Marion and Shiva Stone are the twin sons of a secret union between an Indian nun and a British doctor at 'Missing' hospital in Addis Ababa. Bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared passion for medicine, and cricket, they grow up as Ethiopa hovers on the brink of revolution.
Yet it will be love, not politics, that tears the twins apart and forces Marion to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge at an underfunded, overcrowded hospital......

Having read so many positive reviews of this book I admit to high expectations and I wasn't to be disappointed. It's a substantial book, not only in number of pages but in the quality and richness of the prose. It took me a week to read because I slowed my reading down to a snail's pace in order to savour every word.

Abraham Verghese is a physician who was born and raised in Ethiopia and he has used this life experience to create a background to his story. The novel spans fifty years and I can't say I knew a great deal about this country before ...... the lingering influence of the Italians, Emperor Haile Selassie and the revolution to overthrow him makes interesting reading as do the sights and sounds of Ethiopia and the glimpse into the culture of everyday living.
Central to the story is the Missing (Mission)Hospital where nuns, doctors and nurses struggle to provide medical care in Third World conditions. The descriptions of diseases and illnesses and the healing procedures are detailed and heartbreaking at times as when telling of female circumcision and the physical results of  girls giving birth too young.

It is here the twins are brought up by their adoptive parents, Gnosh and Hema, a gynaecologist and a surgeon at the hospital. I loved all the characters , even if I didn't like some of them, because they are so real. All with their own strengths and weaknesses they reach out and connect with the reader at that all important emotional level.

There are so many different threads in this novel but the central theme is love, the healing power of love. A saga of human relationships that makes for emotional and compelling reading and is definitely one of my favourite books read this year.

Highly recommended - I loved it!!


  1. I've had this on my shelf to read for several months now. It sounds like a book that will stick with me after I read it and that is my favorite kind.

  2. Thanks for the great review. I really want to read this book. (Doesn't hurt that it has a terrific cover! :)

  3. Oh no! I returned this one to the library without reading it :( I am so bad with library books sometime

  4. Kathleen - definitely a book that will stay with me.

    Janna- the cover is striking but it doesn't really refect the story.

    Blodeuedd - I'm forever taking unread books back to the library but at least one has the consolation they'll be there for another time

  5. I also loved this book, I think for me it had suffered from over hype a little bit but it was still a great story with wonderful flawed characters.

  6. I loved this book! I just started adding books to my blog. I found your blog when I googled images for the book cover and liked yours the best. I hope you don't mind me copying it.

  7. I don't mind at all! Hope you enjoyed this great story.