Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cutting for Stone

My mother determines the greatness of a book if she's still thinking about it a few days after completion. Good litmus test. It's been a few weeks since I've finished Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. And yes, I'm still thinking about it. I'm not really sure I'm even qualified to write a review. The novel is just that massive.

For starters, we could talk about the metaphoric title at length. At book club, one of our members mentioned that her son (a pre-med student) was required to read this fictional account of an Indian nun who gives birth to twins at a missionary hospital in Ethiopia. (Cool prerequisite, huh?) The father, a surgeon, named Thomas Stone, flees upon the death of the nun and the twins are left to be raised by other doctors. Anyway, that's just the beginning. The story is at the heart of an Ethiopian revolution and much, much happens as the twins grow up and eventually become reunited with their father.

The book was long, yes. But compelling is an understatement. For example, the last time our Lunch and Library read a book over 600 pages, only three of us toiled through it. When I walked into our Cutting for Stone session, we had a full house. And we hardly had enough time to fit in all of  our discussion.

Voice–beautiful. And there was plenty of medical terminology tossed about. Now that's talent.
Themes–the unique bond between twins, a doctor's duty to care for patients, Africa's constant war with itself, unrequited love, requited love. Yes. He manages to weave all of these themes perfectly.

A five star book, through and through. I'm typically a fast reader...I whiz through them. But this is not a book to speed read. It's a book to savor. So, if you're reading it for book club, start early.

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