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Cutting for Stone

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  358,354 ratings  ·  26,841 reviews
A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel - an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.

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,
Hardcover, First Edition, 541 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published 2009)
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Phyllis In the ancient Greek Hippocratic Oath (for physicians) there was a line about not cutting for stone (gall stone, kidney stone, etc) because of the dan…moreIn the ancient Greek Hippocratic Oath (for physicians) there was a line about not cutting for stone (gall stone, kidney stone, etc) because of the danger to the patient. In the era, there was no anesthesia, etc. However, the book's title CUTTING FOR STONE may indicate the danger and risk inherent in familiar love. The surgeon in the book is a Doctor Stone and his two estranged sons become doctors. (less)
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Average rating 4.30  · 
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 ·  358,354 ratings  ·  26,841 reviews

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Oct 02, 2010 rated it liked it
But it was only now, near the end, and far too late, that the pieces suddenly - dreadfully - clicked into place. Like a long Tetris piece slamming down, making a whole block of mystery blink and vanish. Only now did he realize what suddenly seemed so obvious: everyone who had suggested this book to him – every single one – was a middle-aged woman. This book…it was about the importance of family.

A wave of cold horror washed over him.

It would take months of porn and comic books to counteract this
Jan 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Many readers will tell you that Cutting for Stone is the epic story of two conjoined twins fathered by a brilliant British Surgeon and an Indian Nun. And it technically is. Narrated by Marion the first born twin we are told of every influence on his and his brother’s existence. More than the story being told however, the novel is an accurate portrayal of life in all it’s cruelty and wonder.

The twin’s mother dies in childbirth and their father abandons them minutes later. They are raised in a mi
Feb 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engaging, exhilarating and also exhausting!

Indeed, a remarkable reading experience!!

(*look for Trigger/Content warnings before reading this book)


And because I love this life
I know I shall love death as well.
The child cries out when
From the right breast the mother
Takes it away, in the very next moment
To find in the left one
Its consolation.

~ Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

These immortal lines by the great Bengali poet seem to form the ‘basis’ of the beautifully written Cutting for Stone.

Oct 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
“My VIP patients often regret so many things on their deathbeds. They regret the bitterness they’ll leave in people’s hearts. They realize that no money, no church service, no eulogy, no funeral procession no matter how elaborate can remove the legacy of a mean spirit.” (Cutting for Stone, pg 434)

More than a few people who’ve read the novel mentioned to me that they wanted to discontinue reading the novel. And I understood what they meant, when I finished reading Cutting for Stone this last week
Kasa Cotugno
Recently in San Francisco I attended a reading by Abraham Verghese, who has written my favorite book of the year: CUTTING FOR STONE. I'd gotten it from the library, and after @150 pages was so in love with it that when I heard he was going to be at the store, I returned the library copy (there's a huge line waiting for it), and bought a copy just to have the pleasure of his signature. We actually had a little chat after the reading, while he happened by on his way to his car. He asked why I'd ch ...more
"Wasn’t that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted?"

This book is both brilliant and breathtaking. I absolutely loved it. Abraham Verghese is not only a distinguished physician, but an extremely talented writer. The prose is some of the very best I have encountered in a novel, and the story itself is hugely compelling. Verghese takes his time setting up the story and introducing the cast of characters that will be thoroughly developed throughout the course of t
Petra is Darla in the book
Update I didn't like the writing of this book at all, but now, after reading the Verghese's foreword to When Breath Becomes Air and being unable to get over the florid and verbose writing of that either and other people agreeing with that, I just wonder how so many people enjoyed the very similar writing in this book.

I tried to read this book several times but it didn't hold my attention at all. I just couldn't get into it.

I realise that I am in a minority among friends for not swooning ov
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Breathless is how I’m feeling right now as I close this book. Magnificence is in the power of this story and the storyteller.

I was introduced to Verghese briefly as he wrote a prologue to the exquisitely written memoir , When Breath Becomes Air. Another of my favourites.

Yet, I was ill prepared for the visceral attack on my senses reading this epic story that takes place in Ethiopia.
A story of doctors and the lives of becoming one. The story of undeniable love for parents who weren’t biological,
My favorite parts of this sizable tome were, of course, the medical jargon and the lyrically gory descriptions of diseases and surgeries.

I guess, by now I have finally and irreversibly crossed that thin line between sanity and medicine.

Yes, all the descriptions of diseases and surgeries, and the handy medical mneumonics were like music to my ears. Really. Reading Verghese's Cutting for Stone reminded me of the conversations that I tend to have with my friends in the medical field - they inevita
Kate Merriman
Beautifully written, engrossing novel plants you deeply in the passion of practicing medicine, winds you intimately into the cloth of Ethiopia. Verghese uses language so elegantly and paces his story so perfectly that I was totally transported.

I finished the book feeling homesick for Addis Ababa, although I have never been there.

When I signed up (in several places) to review early editions of books on my blog and in other viral / social media places (like Facebook), I had that little hope that I
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great storytelling! I was captivated throughout.

The first time I heard about this book my brother-in-law and all of his medical school friends were reading it and couldn't say enough about how amazing it was. After reading it and seeing how much of it has to do with medicine and surgery, it makes perfect sense.

I really enjoyed getting to know all the characters and, seeing them deal with the social constructs of mid-20th century Ethiopia. Also, the author pulls no punches when it comes to the he
Elyse Walters
Jun 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite

I'm back again --(my friend Debbie told me I could 'edit' my own review')...

I want to say 'something' about this book again. I've given many 5 stars on books I've read ---which then makes THIS book a 5 ++++ star book!

Its exceptional! Every book club in the Bay Area was reading it at one time. The author 'always' had PACKED FULL rooms of people coming to hear him speak on this book. (I heard him speak twice).

Much could be discussed about this wonderful novel.

Note: There are t
Jan 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1-fiction
3.5 of 5 stars to Abraham Verghese's novel, Cutting for Stone, which was a book club selection about 7 years ago. At first, I wasn't sure I'd like the book, as I expected it to be quite sad. And back then, I wasn't interested in reading sad or emotional books; however, this one was quite good and I waffled between a 3 and a 4. I settled on a 3 only because I felt it was a little too formal / stiff for the type of book it felt like it should have been -- still above average to me, as far as books ...more
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
I read this book years ago and I still find myself recommending it at least monthly to someone. It is so beautifully written, so moving, so involving, so perfect. I loved every single page of this book.

Marion and Shiva Stone are twins born to a Nun (yes you read correctly) and a British Surgeon in Addis Ababa (I know right, Where? ). They are orphaned after their father's disappearance and their Mother's death in childbirth. The boys are then raised by Hema and Ghosh, the two Indian doctors with
Feb 27, 2020 rated it liked it
I don’t think I am singing from the same hymn sheet as most people on good reads when it comes to my rating of Cutting for stone and while I did enjoy some aspects of the book, over all it was long drawn out and hard work.

I am not going to summarize the Novel as the blurb on the book sums it up pretty well.
The first 150 pages of this story I found very slow going and way too medically descriptive for my liking. Perhaps if I had more knowledge or liked programmes like ER or Grays Anatomy I would
This had the potential to be amazing, a sweeping epic history of Ethiopia ala The Poisonwood Bible, but for all of Verghese's description, he failed to paint a powerful picture of Ethiopia. I expected so much more from him. He wastes 20% of the book describing the first day, but most of it I found pointless to the novel. I would much rather all that description give me something of the setting, of the characters, something powerful and enduring. Either that or cut it by a good 200 pages. But I w ...more
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hope it’s not too self-indulgent to start with a personal history here. The first I ever heard of this was when Amazon sent me one of those “since you liked x, we recommend y” mails. So right off the bat I was predisposed against it. Who wants some algorithm deciding things for them? [Insert wink that’s more than a little ironic given that I’m in the algo biz myself.] My second time hearing of it was when a nice older lady at a charity book sale was telling me how much she enjoyed it. While I ...more
Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was ok
DNF at 65%

I can't do it anymore. I tried and I tried but when at 60% and you don't care and not enjoying a book, it's not worth it. I still have around 9 hours left (out of 24) and I'm not going to waste more time over a book I don't like.

I rarely DNF books but it's a chore listening to this audiobook. The blurb says that the main character is betrayed by his brother. NO BETRAYAL YET. We had 6 hours of a story about people before he was born. Who writes these blurbs?? It’s as bad as the movie
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Before you read this book, consider this: the book was printed with an average of 425 words per page for 541 pages in an almost minus zero font size. That jerked my chain a bit, so I did not begin reading this book in quite the right frame of mind.

But who in their right mind would like to put down a book beginning like this:
"My brother, Shiva, and I came into the world in the late afternoon of the twentieth of September in the year of Grace 1954. We took our first breath in the thin air, 8 000
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost gave this book 5 stars, because the last third of the book culminated beautifully, with all that came before woven with purpose into an emotionally full and satisfying completion. But I struggled with the first 100 pages or more, feeling (until the end) that the author could have cut out all that set- up.

I struggled for 3 main reasons:

1. The author provided a depth of medical detail during surgeries that either bored me, or made me squeamish. Because I felt little-to-no connection to
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
An epic saga set initially in a mission hospital in Ethiopia. Twins are born to an Indian nun and a British doctor. The nun who has become the doctor's assistant in the operating theatre dies in childbirth; the doctor, overcome with grief, flees the country overnight. No one knew she was pregnant; no one is even sure the doctor is the father of the twins. The twins are adopted by the other two surgeons at the hospital. Ghosh has always been in love with Hema but she has always made fun of his fe ...more
All the stars! I loved this story!
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-english
Some books have a hypnotic effect and they leave you in a state of haziness when you finish them. Cutting for Stone has been such a book for me.

It is a beautiful novel because it succeeds in creating endearing personalities.

Apart from this, there is very little I can add to the very many reviews in GR, or to what the author has presented in the “Stanford Book Salon”. He acted as the Faculty Host when they chose this book in their monthly reading.

As I do not belong to the medical community, I fo
For years now this wonderful book has been sitting on my unread books shelf. It has occasionally whispered my name, but I have always told it “next time.” I am so pleased that I finally broke that pattern, for this book is one of those not to be missed experiences. (Permission granted to my friend, Candi, to say “I told you so.”)

The author, Abraham Verghese, is a physician, and his experience and knowledge come through in spades. They add a level of realism and veracity to the story that might b
warren Cassell
Jan 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is the one that started me. I read a galley and it will be published February 2. It was a sublime reading experience, the best novel I have read in several years. Back in the old days of Just Books, I probably would not have let a customer out of the store without the book in hand. In some places that might be considered pushy. In Greenwich, it was a gushing "Thanks Warren for putting this book in my hands."

Anyway, this is the story of twin doctors separated at their birth in a hospital in
Anne (On semi-hiatus)
Jul 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
“Life, too, is like that. You live it forward, but understand it backward. It is only when you stop and look to the rear that you see the corpse caught under your wheel.”
― Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone

This is a very quotable novel. That's not surprising given that the author's inspiration for writing this novel was another very quotable novel, Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham. Abraham Verghese discusses this in a brief interview I watched on Youtube. ( I thought OHB was about everythi
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top, i-said
A deeply affecting story of life and death and the wonders of medicine. It is hard to beleive this is a work of fiction so compelling is the bond between two brothers and the extended family that colours their lives. Brimming with medical insight and vividly set in mid-century Ethiopia this tale transports you to another time and place. Family, blood, betrayal and forgiveness... Cutting for Stone is a requiem to the healing power of love.
Apr 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

The only thing that kept me from rating this book 5 stars was the amount of very detailed medical information that is included throughout the book. You can definitely tell a doctor wrote this. It's not a bad thing, all of it for the most part relates to the actual plot of the book and to the characters. But towards the middle of the book it starts to really slow the story down. But the beginning! And the ending! Absolutely five star stuff there. I definitely recommend this. Just don't l
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Such a great book..,
Andrew Smith
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Using a phrase from the Hippocratic Oath as its title, this book sometimes reads like a medical textbook, such is the level of detail used to describe a multitude of practical applications. This might sound like a negative but it becomes apparent that a degree of confidence in the authenticity of medical practice adopted is paramount to the reader’s understanding and accepting of the plot as it plays out. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Set in Addis Ababa some fifty (or so) years ago, this i
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Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP, is Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine.

Born of Indian parents who were teachers in Ethiopia, he grew up near Addis Ababa and began his medical training there. When Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed, he completed his training at Madras Medical Co

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