Cutting for Stone
I know I have disappeared again, but I have now returned with a review for a book that will surely be numbered as one of my favorites for the year. I had wanted to post a review soon after finishing it, but decided to hold off because my book club was meeting last week to discuss it and I often like to include the thoughts of my fellow members when posting my reviews. Unfortunately, only one other member had finished the book, so a lot of good it did, waiting.
For those members who had not read it, I discovered quickly that providing a synopsis of Cutting for Stone is no easy feat. Understand this—the book is of epic proportions. At 600+ pages, I cannot fit any of it in a nutshell, but try it I will. Mariam and Shiva are twin boys born in Ethiopia in the 1950s. They are born to a mother who is a nun and promptly dies upon their birth, and a father who is a well revered surgeon in their small village, who quickly flees. The toy boys are then raised by Hema, the village’s gynecologist, and Ghosh, the physician who becomes the surgeon after the disappearance of their real father, Thomas Stone.
So many issues come into play throughout the novel, and the ties that bind a family are questioned. Shiva and Mariam, although close as two people can be, due to the fact that not only are they twins, but they also were born attached at the head, have a falling out in their teenage years, and the chasm between them quickly grows. Shiva is somewhat of a genius, and in that sense he has cut himself off from the rest of the world and is unable to form meaningful relationships. Mariam seems the more pragmatic of the two, at times, but also relies too much on his emotions.
My synopsis does little justice for Cutting for Stone, and barely gives the unknown reader a glimpse into the soul of this novel, but it’s close enough. I would hate to ruin the experience for those of you who have yet to read it. That being said, as you likely deduced, most of my fellow book club members did not make much headway. A few of them just didn’t give themselves enough time. In fact, my sister asked to borrow my copy three days before our meeting. I explained to her that she would never be able to finish it in that amount of time! There was also a member who put the book down for good midway through. That was a bit shocking to me, because while I could understand how they beginning was a bit slow, I definitely was in it for good but the hundred page mark. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
The medical terminology and descriptions in this book are abundant. Verghese is apparently a surgeon of some kind, and that is glaringly obvious in reading the book! I actually was completely interested in the medical aspect of the book though, and I also love to be “grossed out”, so I had absolutely no problem with it. Surprisingly enough, there was only one member of my book club that did seem bothered by it, and she was the only other one to finish the book. I think she found it a bit polarizing.
Expect a rollercoaster with this one. Your emotions will be toyed with (in a good way, I hope), while still being able to appreciate the wonderful writing and the lush landscape.
I purchased this book . . . maybe from Barnes & Noble?!