Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Here is a summary of the book from the Random House website:

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.

Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles—and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.


My Review:
I was very excited to read this novel that received so much praise from various sources.  This was our book club pick for the summer and I know that many book clubs have already read this one.  A good friend of mine told me this was the best book she read in the last year.  As much as I wanted to love this book like the majority of people out there, it didn't happen for me.

The beginning of the book just went on and on, with Sister Mary Joseph Praise giving birth to the twins in a clinic in Ethiopia.  I think the first twenty-five percent of the book was the birthing process, and personally, I didn't need all those details.   When Sister Mary Joseph dies in childbirth, the father, Thomas Stone, suddenly leaves in his grief, never to return.  This leaves a couple of unmarried surgeons, Ghosh and Hema, to raise the boys as their own.  They name the boys Marion and Shiva and create a home together, making an unlikely instant family.

Ghosh is a good man, and has had an attraction to Hema for quite some time.  He does not hesitate to help her raise these boys after their parents are no longer available.  When he decides to ask Hema to marry him, he rejoices when she agrees to commit to a marriage in one-year increments.  After that year, they can decide if they want to renew their arrangement.  I thought this was a comical situation, but after years have gone by, also romantic.

Most of the story was told by Marion's viewpoint.  This worked well for me as I enjoyed getting to know his character, his fears, likes, and dislikes.  The part that was unbelievable for me, and I think I actually put my Kindle down and said, "Give me a break," was when he described his journey through the birth canal.  Really?  How many of us remember that?

Through Marion's world, we watch these boys grow up into young men.  We get an up-close look at the turmoil in Ethiopia, which I found very interesting.  That was probably my favorite part of the book as I had no idea what caused the discontent in the country.  We follow them as their family bond grows stronger, and as Marion falls in love.  Marion carries this love in his heart, even when he flees the country to study medicine in the United States.  Shiva stays in Ethiopia practicing and perfecting his medical procedures in Ethiopia.

I am not going to give away any more of this book.  Although I didn't really care for it, I am glad that I finally read it.  I will tell you that most of my book club read it and loved it!  One gal even started reading it again after she finished it!  With themes of survival, betrayal, love, and family, I have to admit that it does make for an interesting book club selection.  There was some beautiful writing in this book so although I didn't love it, I'm sure many of you will.

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  This book came from my personal collection and I read it for my own enjoyment and as a book club selection.

13 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I read this with my book club and we had very mixed reactions. I was one of the people who felt the way you did. I passed my copy on to my mother and she loved it.

Ti said...

The last third of the book made me very angry. I just didn't think the characters would behave that way. Didn't see realistic to me.

Vicki said...

I've had this on my list to read forever. Sorry you didn't like it much, maybe I'll get to it soon!

The Lawver's said...

I didn't enjoy this book either...I found myself rolling my eyes a lot! haha

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