Cutting for Stone is a touching story that follows the lives of Marion and Shiva, twins raised in Ethiopia. Marion and Shiva are born to an Indian nun and English Doctor who lose their mother at birth. They are raised by two Indian doctors working at a missionary hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I will not summarize the plot; suffice it to say that it is a beautiful story, beautifully told. It is a story of love, loss, betrayal, resentments, forgiveness and redemption. It is a story about parental love and parental estrangement, about sibling bond and sibling rivalry, about community, family and so much more. It is the story of wounds, some that surgery can fix and some that nothing can fix; that will fester the rest of our lives unless we resolve to heal them ourselves. Broken limbs are more easily fixed than broken hearts!
Of late, several doctors have been writing fiction – Sanjay Gupta, Khaled Hosseini, Atul Gawande and the author of this book Abraham Verghese. As you would expect, the story is full of medical details. Readers may find the medical details tedious. Not being a doctor, these details served to remind me of the complications of the human body and feel a sense of gratitude to doctors/surgeons who look after us when we are ill. This book has several characters who are doctors and they are all dedicated, committed and compassionate.
Some readers may find the end over-dramatized but I found the end of the story satisfying. Ethiopia’s political landscape forms the backdrop for the story as the story moves between India, Ethiopia and America.
The author’s prose is remarkable. The book is filled with wonderful characters you feel you know as members of your family. The reader will remember the characters in the book long after the book has been read. The book is full of kindness, compassion, love and wisdom. This is not a page turning cliff-hanger kind of novel; it is a thoughtful, literary novel that needs to be read slowly and savoured. I highly recommend the book.
Geetha`s love of books began when she was a child. She later turned that love into formal education with a Masters in English Literature and then again into a career for a few years, teaching English at Ethiraj and Fergusson Colleges in India. Though her career took her into the computer industry, Geetha has continued to read both individually as well as part of a book club in Newmarket, Canada where she lives.