I finished a book last night that I know will stay with me for some time. A friend recommended Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. The novel is 658 pages, but the story is so captivating that I was almost sorry to come to the final page.
The author is a physician who has written about doctors. Who better to be able to give a clear picture of other doctors and the conditions they treat? The characters are many, but the author has done a masterful job of weaving the lives of all of them together and yet making each one important.
When I first heard what the story was about, I wasn't all that sure I wanted to read it, but I'm glad that I did. The basics are--a British surgeon and a Catholic nun from India work together in a mission hospital in Ethiopia in the 1950's. Sister Mary Joseph Praise gets pregnant and dies giving birth to twin boys who are conjoined by a tube between their heads. They are separated but their father flees when the boys are born and the mother dies during the birth. The twins are raised by two Indian doctors at the mission hospital. The story is narrated by one of the twins. We see all the characters through his eyes, we journey with him through childhood, teen years, and into his middle aged years. We see life in Ethiopia with its political upheavals.
The Los Angeles Times said "Richly written...Shows how history and landscape and accidents of birth and death conspire to create the story of a single life...You may never leave the chair." I would agree with that statement. I felt compelled to keep reading this beautifully written, moving tale. I cried in at least three places proving that the author has the ability to transfer the emotion in the story to the reader. He made me care about so many of the characters in the book, not just the protagonist.
The book has been on the bestseller lists and would be an excellent choice for Book Clubs to read. It provides a great deal for a good discussion.