In Retrospect – Cutting for Stone


Its been a while since I have been totally ensorcelled by a book or a story. While most of my recent reads have been good, this one will stay very very close to my heart and be remembered for a long time to come. I don’t know what took me so long!!Verghese is like a sorcerer who leaves you possessed. He will drag you through moments of utter despair, lift you to insurmountable happiness and bring you back down to the darkest deepest caves you have ever imagined you will be in.

The story begins with a nun migrating to Africa and serving in a hospital. She becomes the most trusted assistant to the main surgeon who is unaware of the turn his life is going to take. When twin boys are born to the nun, the surgeon who loves her so deeply is left in a dark grief stricken black hole and abandons them. The twins are adopted by Hema and Ghosh, fellow doctors of Thomas Stone ( the father). The story is set mainly in Addis Ababa and moves around to Eritrea and New York. There are glimpses of other African countries, India and Rome as well.

As ShivaMarion grow older, they are caught up in the savage, coup in Ethiopia, growing pains, desires and other horrors. Marion is forced to leave Addis because of Genet his love interest who has been brought up in the same household by Hema and Ghosh and is the child of a house maid. When Marion reaches the United States he is in for a turn of events, he never imagines will befall him. As he meets his birth father, his estranged love interest, loses his loved ones, he comes to realize how all of it ties him down to his mother. This is a story of love all along the way. Even when you don’t think it is love!

Abraham Verghese is a fantastic story teller. He is extremely articulate and makes every character seem so real. Being a doctor himself, his explanation of medical terms and procedures is not only accurate but put in such simple, lucid language that a layman does not feel lost. There of course are gory explanations and situations, but nothing that is unnecessary or futile. This book will tuck at your heart’s strings, show you what the medical professionals deal with and give you new realizations of how lucky you are to lead the life you are leading. Verghese very tactfully talks about the political uproar in Africa and is very subtle about his opinions about change and revolution. This is a great read and if you have not laid your hands on this one, I recommend you waste no more time!


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