Wednesday, April 21, 2010
cutting for stone
Sister Mary Joseph Praise, a devout young nun, leaves the south Indian state of Kerala in 1947 for a missionary post in Yemen. During the arduous sea voyage, she saves the life of an English doctor bound for Ethiopia, Thomas Stone, who becomes a key player in her destiny when they meet up again at Missing Hospital in Addis Ababa. Seven years later, Sister Praise dies birthing twin boys: Shiva and Marion, the latter narrating his own and his brothers long, dramatic, biblical story set against the backdrop of political turmoil in Ethiopia, the life of the hospital compound in which they grow up and the love story of their adopted parents, both doctors at Missing. The boys become doctors as well and Vergheses weaving of the practice of medicine into the narrative is fascinating even as the story bobs and weaves with the power and coincidences of the best 19th-century novel.
Given that I don't want to write a book report I will only say that everyone (9 of us) who read the book loved it. The characters are so human and likable in many ways. I wanted to know what happened to each of them. While reading "Cutting for Stone" I felt there was a similarity to John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany" in the author's character development. Coincidentaly I just noticed on Amazon that John Irving reviewed the book. So I may be on to something there.