Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Emerging from Abraham Verghese’s ‘Cutting for Stone’ reminds me what it was like returning home after three months travelling in Asia; home is familiar, but everything else feels strangely altered by the recent experience.

Except, it is not Asia I traverse, but reading my way through Addis Ababa in central Ethiopia to a hospital in the Bronx, via the eyes, ears, heart and hands of Marion Stone. Marion and Shiva are identical twin boys left orphaned when their mother dies during childbirth and their father, unable to cope with the revelations of that day, abandons them for good.

Raised by Hema and Ghosh, doctors in the Mission Missing Hospital, kept running by Matron’s unrelenting pursuance of international donors, they become a close-knit family, often struggling but nearly always overcoming the day to day dramas of the hospital and the equally unpredictable events of a volatile political environment.

Marion and Shiva follow their role models into the medical world and we too enter the operating room with such verisimilitude, it’s almost like watching an episode or ER (the nearest I have come to knowing what trauma surgery might be like).

Ethiopia & the Horn of Africa

Five hundred plus pages of bliss, I don’t recall when I was last so content that a book continued after 400 pages, so happy was I to enter the author’s realistically created world, taking me to those exotic but familiar to him locations, putting me through numerous experiences I will likely never encounter.  Verghese’s words on the page bring a life-like quality; there is a richness to his prose that is metaphorically beautiful and a perceptive tension that is heart racing mad. It’s a roller coaster ride from start to finish and by page 472 tears of joy were flowing.

Gripping, enticing, compassionately delivered, eye-opening, heart racing, it is an unforgettable journey and a thrill of a read.  I finished it on the first day of 2012 and I can’t imagine reading better than this for a while, it could well become one of my best reads of 2012.

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20 thoughts on “Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

  1. Wow – I just added it to the top of my book list. I was just thinking the other day that I haven’t been completely absorbed into a book in quite a while. I was perusing my bookshelves trying to decide what to read and sort of missing that feeling of total absorption in a book and then a feeling almost of loss when its over. Thank you for sharing and, on another note, thank you for the blog group on She Writes. I love getting people’s responses and checking out fun new blogs on a fairly regular basis.

    • Yes, I know what you mean, the previous book I read ‘Perfect Hostage’ took me a couple of weeks to read and I began to think I’d lost that ability, so ‘Cutting for Stone’ was a real gift for me.

      Likewise, I am happy to have asked the question that prompted people to share their blogs, it has really helped me a lot and wonderful that it was part of a discussion that can be shared by all.

  2. I loved this book as much as you did, Claire. I’m kicking myself because a friend of mine recently had a quick trip (but long flight) to Addis Ababa, and Cutting for Stone would have been the perfect traveling companion!

    Thanks for reminding me what an exquisitely written book this is.

    • Don’t be put off, they’re not described in a way to make you squeamish and there is so much to be gained for investing in the story, I am sure you won’t regret it.

  3. Thanks for the review. I haven’t read this yet but it’s on my to-read list. I too have not read a book that took me over like that, in quite awhile. I’m yearning for it!

  4. I found your site from the Shewrites blog and Sue Ann Bowling who listed everyone’s blogs. I’m trying to work my way through the list to see who’s out there. I love reading, so when I saw “book review” I had to stop by, and now I have a book with which to start 2012. Can’t wait to curl up with “Cutting for Stone.” I look forward to reading more of your reviews as I do like recommendations. Many thanks.

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