Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review - Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Title: Cutting for Stone (Amazon)
Author: Abraham Verghese
Publisher: Alfred K. Knopf
Release Date: 2009
Pages: 534
Source: Library
Genre: Adult Fiction

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him. (Goodreads)

Kim’s take –

This turned out to be an okay book. It starts out a little slow but becomes very interesting. There are several characters which the book follows, mainly the lives of Marion and Shiva Stone, twin boys born in Ethiopia during very difficult and tragic times. The boys are born to Sister Mary Joseph Praise, a nun who is a nurse and surgeon Thomas Stone at Missing Hospital in Addis Ababa. Descriptions of Ethiopia during those times were very interesting. After the death of their mother, fellow surgeons Hema and Ghosh raise them as their own. The boys were always aware of who their biological parents were. In Marion and Shiva’s late teens, a terrible betrayal by Shiva severs the extremely close bond the twins shared and ultimately changes the course of many lives. After fleeing from Ethiopia to America after being wrongly accused of betraying his countries government, Marion finishes his medical training in an inner-city New York hospital.

Circumstances lead him to meeting his mysterious father who is a prestigious surgeon in Boston. The history of Thomas Stone is then given. I felt this should have been presented more towards the beginning of the book at the same time as their mother’s history was given. After contracting Hepatitis in a heart-breaking, tragic way, Marion is on the brink of death. He is saved by his father and estranged brother, who is also a surgeon.

There were a couple of things that really brought the rating down for me. Though the story was really good it could have used a lot less technical medical jargon and step-by-step descriptions of medical procedures and surgeries. There were a lot of sad, graphic situations which didn’t bother me but may bother another reader. The only other downfall for me was the order in which a lot of the situations and histories were presented. Had these been spread out more, it would have kept me a little more interested during some of the unexciting periods when Marion and Shiva were growing up. It was an overall very good story and I feel bad about only giving it 3 stars, but it just wasn’t written in a way that I enjoyed or was pulled in by. But, of course, this is just my opinion.  

Kim’s Rating3/5


  1. Great review! I have seen this book around, but never read a review about it. Good to know what it's about!

  2. hmmmm this isn't my normal cup of tea, but the plot is rather intriguing. I liked your review for it a lot - very insightful! :)

  3. I think the medical jargon would have made me want to run away. Great review and thanks for explaining what you didn't enjoy about the book.