Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth 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. Yet it will be love, not politics–their passion for the same woman–that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him–nearly destroying him–Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.
Pages: 688 (paperback)
Rating:10 out of 10
Source:Purchased from Target, I think, but cannot recall for sure
When we needed a selection for the Partners and Professors book club in MA, I looked at the NPR book list and as a group we discovered that Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese was available in paperback and had an intriguing plot. Unfortunately, the book club meeting took place during a hectic time and I was not able to complete the book. I kept meaning to return to it and finally found my way to the pages while I was on vacation two weeks ago. I started at the beginning and could not devour the story fast enough.
At the risk of sounding trite, I LOVED THIS BOOK! I thought it was an amazing and powerful story. I found myself thinking about the characters when I was away from them. While there was a powerful personal story unfolding, I also learned a lot about the history of Ethiopia. I also appreciated the social justice undertones. I thought that some of the medical jargon and descriptions would be hard to get through, but the way things were described made the information very accessible. In fact, one of my favorite things about the book is the way medical phrases and philosophy were applied to personal interactions and ways of being in the world.
** Spoiler Alert**
My favorite characters were Ghosh and Hema. I loved how they grew individually and as a couple. Their interactions were sweet and filled with tenderness. The way they parented Shiva and Marion gave me a good picture of how I would like to parent. I also had a special spot for Hema because she reminded me of my mother-- the way she navigated the world of medicine and provided a healing touch while adorned in traditional Indian clothing.
My least favorite character was Genet. I hated her behavior and choices. Mostly, I hated the impact her choice and behavior had on Marion and Shiva. It infuriated me that she had sex with Shiva and then forbid Marion from telling the truth. The demise of the closeness of Marion and Shiva was tough to witness. When Genet returned to Marion's life, my stomach was in knots. As Marion's health deteriorated, I was glad that the disease brought Shiva and Marion together again. While there was much sweetness during Marion's time in the hospital, I wish that Genet had never returned to their lives. In case you cannot tell, I was really attached to these characters!!
I am counting the book for the following challenges:
2011 Global Reading Challenge: Much of the book took place in Ethiopia, so it is a bonus read for the continent of Africa.
South Asian Challenge 2011: Some of the characters are of Indian origin and the author is also Indian.
Chunkster Reading Challenge 2011: The book is 688 pages and meets the requirements of a chunkster.
What's in a Name Four: I am counting it for the movement category as cutting is a movement.