Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Cutting for Stone is one of those books that sweeps you away. It is an epic tale of family, love, loyalty and betrayal that is set in the unfamiliar landscape of Ethiopia. Conjoined twin boys, Marion and Shiva, are born in a harrowing and traumatic scene as their mother, who is a nun, lies dying on the operating table. Their presumed father abandons them and they are adopted by Hema and Ghosh, Indian doctors who work at Missing Hospital, where the poor and suffering people of Addis Ababa are treated. The story glides through the decades of their youth, detailing the formation of the boys’ very differing personalities, the changes in the Ethiopian government and the way that medicine and the experience of growing up at the indigent hospital shapes their future lives and professions. An act of betrayal eventually splits Marion and Shiva apart and its consequences rebound through the years affecting every aspect of not only their lives, but their family's as well.
This is a first person narrative, told from the viewpoint of Marion. Written very descriptively with lush depictions of the Ethiopian vista and vivid portrayals of surgical procedures, the story is beguiling in its ability to pull you into the lives of this unusual family. If you enjoy winding sagas with engaging and memorable characters, try Cutting for Stone.

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