Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

This was the selection for the January meeting of my book club.  I'm still fairly new to the whole idea of books clubs, but I'm loving it so far.  Maybe because we're a pretty laid-back group that doesn't get too serious about themes and symbolism, but we just talk about what we like and don't like.  That's my kind of book club.

I left this one until a week before the meeting, not fully realizing that it had 650 pages. So I kind of rushed through it a bit, not fully immersing myself in some of the vivid descriptions in the book.

This is the story mainly of Marion Stone, but you can't tell his story without including his identical twin, Shiva.  Marion and Shiva are the sons of a nun (yes, a nun) and one of the doctors at the Ethiopian hospital where she worked as  nurse.  Having hid her pregnancy from everyone, including the father, the hospital staff went into shock and weren't prepared for the complicated birth. As a result, the mother dies in childbirth, causing the grieving father to abandon the boys and flee the country.  The boys are raised on the grounds of the hospital by some of the doctors remaining there.

This is a beautifully written book.  As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of very vivid descriptions (some of which I sped over, in the interest of finishing the book) that really help capture the setting of the book.  At the beginning of the book there is a scene inside a crashing airplane.  I felt like I was right there in the plane, I could feel the fear and tension perfectly.

Because the book is set mainly in a hospital, with many characters being doctors, a lot of the descriptions are of medical settings which can be a bit much.  One of the women in my book club said she often got queasy from some of the medical scenes and had to take a break from reading.  Surgeries are described in great detail, including a step-by-step demonstration of how to do a vasectomy, so these are areas I tended to skip over a little.  I don't think I'm ever going to need that skill.

On the whole, I really enjoyed this book, I loved the characters and the Ethiopian setting.  In our book club we also discussed that things seemed to wrap up a little too neatly, with some pretty big coincidences factoring in to how the plot is resolved.  Still, I enjoyed it and recommend it.


  1. I loved reading "Cutting for Stone". I like to read books with a setting such as Ethiopia and also books with a medical background. Love your blog!

  2. I also enjoyed reading this book and recommended it to one of my book clubs (I have four now). Unfortunately, we were away when the book was discussed and I have heard that the girls didn't like it as well as I did. I thought it was really well written. Betty