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Archive 08-19 GR Discussions > Cutting for Stone

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message 1: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ o.k. Sorry I'm a day late in posting, but I am eager to discuss this book!

Some questions to start out with, what did you think of the name of Missing Hospital in relation to the characters that worked inside? Are some of them missing things in their life somehow and so are drawn to this hospital?

What of the two brothers? Are they opposites in many ways or do they mirror one another's traits?

And the title?

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) We discussed the title in my library book club. It comes from Hippocratic Oath, "I will not cut for stone." However it was a prohibition from operating on stones, or calcified deposits, in the kidney or bladder. The ancient Greeks apparently thought surgeons should leave this menial procedure to barbers. (what a delightful thought!) The modern meaning seems to be that doctors should recognize they can't specialize in all areas. So today, we have all the various specialties in medicine.

The hospital name which is really Mission Hospital is a play on words and understanding. It would seem as if many of the doctors and patients are missing things in their life. (i.e. the boys their natural parents, the patients the chance at a full life etc.)

I don't think the boys are mirrors of one another. I do think they they are opposites in many ways as all siblings are but do share the uniqueness of their birthright and common experiences. We are, I believe led to like Marion as narrator of their existence. Shiva is a person caught up with his own whims and desires that ultimately lead him to the betrayal of his brother with the woman Marion loves.

I liked to ask anyone if they were bothered by the author always referring to the mother as Sister Mary Joseph Praise. Why not just Mary or Sister Mary or Sister Praise. I myself found it grating.

message 3: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ Perhaps this is to emphasize the biblical connection? I didn't notice until you mentioned it, but verghese does always use the full name.

message 4: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) What I really liked about the book was all the details the author put in about Ethiopia. I knew nothing about Ethiopia before I read this and was fascinated with the culture. I thought Verghese did a wonderful job of describing the people, their values, the food, the music, etc.

message 5: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ I agree Anne. I love the details about Ethiopia. I think I'd like to visit one day.

Do you think the title has a double meaning because the father's last name is stone?

message 6: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) Yes, I think Verghese intended the title to have a double meaning.

message 7: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ I also found the relationship between ghosh and hema so beautifully developed. At the beginning of the book when we see hema on her return flight, I kept wondering how she would fit into the storyline.

I feel like this is really marion's story. For others that read it, what do you think?

message 8: by Monica (new)

Monica (imelda85) Oh, I just loved this story so much! It was so rich in detail. I found myself using sticky notes to mark memorable quotes, I haven't felt the need to do that with a book in a few months. It was so beautifully written.

I believe that this was Marion's story. I loved the idea of a meaning behind the name Missing (Mission) Hospital! The mispronunciation and it's relation to what the characters were "missing" in their lives is a correlation I didn't pick up on until I read this thread. It's so true!

message 9: by Elizabeth☮ (last edited Jul 19, 2010 06:29PM) (new)

Elizabeth☮ I agree monica. The writing is rich with imagery. I have several passages marked.

message 10: by Julie (new)

Julie (jbbrown2bellsouthnet) | 2 comments I loved this book! I heard Verghese on NPR talking about it and I bought the book that day. I found it to be one of my top ten must reads and have gifted it to many people. They too thought that it was a fantastic story. It was rich in so many ways. I can't wait to read his other books.

I am just so happy that others think it as great as I did!

message 11: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ I have read his other books which are non-fiction. One is about his years as an internist in rural Tennessee when the AIDS epidemic first started. Interesting. The second I'd about a friend he played tennis with. I can't remember the setting. I also heard him do a reading of his second book. Very sincere and personable.

message 12: by Julie (new)

Julie (jbbrown2bellsouthnet) | 2 comments Elizabeth, my mother read In My Own Country, about Aids and said that it was great. Any word on if he is going to be writing another book?

message 13: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ i'm not sure if another book - be it non-fiction or fiction - is in the works as of it. i'm sure he's relishing the success of cutting for stone right now.

message 14: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ How do you feel about the way verghese critiques american medicine? He has interesting dialogue in chapter 40 between Marion and the other interns.

message 15: by Sharon A. (new)

Sharon A. (sharona826) | 172 comments I just finished this book last night and I'm still pondering it. I am not even sure what to say about it to give it justice, but suffice it to say it was my first 5 star read in a while.

I loved Hema and Ghosh's relationship. They were so incredibly well suited, and really drew out the best in each other. I was in tears when he passed away, and again with Shiva.

I am not at all a "medical person" so when I started the book I wasn't sure if I would make it through all of the lengthy and in-depth medical descriptions. But it was actually extremely interesting. I also found it fascinating how Marion (and other foreign-born doctors) fit into the American medical system. I don't know for sure, but it seemed to me to be a pretty accurate portrayal, and honestly it gives me a whole new respect for medical personnel who come here from other countries.

message 16: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ what does everyone think of the relationship between genet and marion? is it believable that he would love someone that is seemingly so disinterested in him as a person?

and what of the "experience" between her and shiva? selfish on whose part?

message 17: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) There were lots of times in the book when I would have liked to have known Shiva's point of view. What happened between him and Genet was one of them. What was he thinking? He had to have known it would not end well. I thought it was very selfish of both Genet and Shiva. Genet knew how Marion felt and for her to use his brother just because she didn't want to wait was deliberately hurtful. I don't think it was ever said in the book, but Shiva had to have known how Marion felt, and still he did what Genet wanted. I don't think he did it to hurt Marion, I don't think he was concerned about how Marion would react at all.

message 18: by Sharon A. (new)

Sharon A. (sharona826) | 172 comments Elizabeth wrote: "what does everyone think of the relationship between genet and marion? is it believable that he would love someone that is seemingly so disinterested in him as a person?

and what of the "expe..."

I thought it was very selfish on both Genet and Shiva's parts, but moreso for Shiva. I hold my siblings to a higher standard than I do others.

I thought Marion's obsession with Genet as a teenager was believable, but I would have thought he should've been over her and moved on by the time they crossed paths in New York.

message 19: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ i agree sharon. she didn't ever really show enough interest that so many years later he still responded so viscerally to her.

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I have to say this novel irritated me on many levels and the one mentioned above was one of them.

message 21: by Emily (new)

Emily (maryemily) | 19 comments I started this book late so I am just now posting. I am on page 137. I really feel the loss of one of the main characters so early in the book, although it seems Sister Mary Joseph Praise, in death, will have a profound influence on all of the remaining characters. I have noticed a lot of foreshadowing in the book, but it is subtle. So far I like it.

message 22: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ emily,

stick with the book. it is full of great characters and such a great setting.

message 23: by Adrienne (last edited Jul 23, 2010 12:09PM) (new)

Adrienne (adriennemarietheresa) | 175 comments the start of this book has to have the longest death sequence ever written. poor sister, she takes chapters in which to die...

almost done, 100 pages to go!

message 24: by Adrienne (last edited Jul 23, 2010 12:39PM) (new)

Adrienne (adriennemarietheresa) | 175 comments I would respectfully disagree with the idea that this is Marion's story. (By the way, yes I'm finished! hehe)

I believe that this is a family's story. While Marion is our narrator and guide, the tale is a woven mat of choices each of the members make over their years together. Between them all, there is betrayal, selfishness highlighted by selflessness, redemption, suffering and great celebration. Some of the members were more successful than others. Marion speaking of Genet, after learning of her death towards the end, was very telling of this whole theme:

"She died chasing greatness and never saw it each time it was in her hand, so she kept seeking it elsewhere, but never understood the work required to get it or to keep it."

Family is work. Anywho, I loved having been part of their (ficitional) lives and feeling the extremes of emotion that are evoked when we love.

Such a fabulous story. It taught me about forgiveness, its true meaning, which is not easy for me to hear right now. I will always treasure the story of the slippers.

And while I ate up every medical bit in the book and wished for more, I wonder how others enjoyed or did not enjoy that part of the book? Did it detract from the story for you?

Oh! and I just had a thought that may explain why Verghese always has the characters refer to Sister by her whole name of Sister Mary Joseph Praise...

While it is true that she and Matron were the only nuns at Missing Hospital, Sister had come from a convent of many nuns. It is the Catholic tradition that when a woman enters, she take a new name to further cement and symbolize her new life. Piety being what it is and saints names being a smaller pool from which to choose, many nuns choose the name Mary. But then how to distinguish one from the other? Hence, the popularity of sisters having more than one name and being known by the whole name.

In our Sister Mary Joseph Praise's case, the whole moniker simply stayed with her as she moved from one continent to another.

message 25: by Chris (new)

Chris (christmax) | 223 comments I really enjoyed this book on lots of levels. I thought the characters were believable if a bit dysfunctional! I think, like Anne, I would have liked to have known Shiva's point of view sometimes too. Thanks Marialyce for your insight into the biblical aspect of cutting out stones, I never knew that!

message 26: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ nice thoughts adrienne. i like your explanation of mary joseph's name. this makes sense. some latino families will give the same first name for children, but a different middle name and then call them by the middle name. something of the same idea.

i thought the medical portions were handled well with enough explanation given so that a layman could understand. i wasn't quite sure why verghese included the very descriptive vasectomy scene. but most of the other medical jargon seemed relevant.

message 27: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Godwin | 17 comments I'm a doctor, and I found the prolonged child delivery nauseating and skipped through it.(Maybe that's why I'm an internist not a surgeon..) I loved Hema and Ghosh, and the descriptions of Ethiopia. Verghese's descriptions of residency were spot on. From a literary point of view, I thought the characters of Genet and Stone were too formulaic. I read his first book( My Own Country: A Doctor's Story)years ago and highly recommend it. This one had a lot of good things and, as someone else said above, a lot of irritating things.

message 28: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 92 comments I really liked the sense of community created at Missing. The theme that spoke to me the most in this book was about how families can be created from a diverse group of people who are bound by their dedication to one another. I think that is what makes Genet's betrayal of Marion so great - she really betrayed everyone.

message 29: by Adrienne (new)

Adrienne (adriennemarietheresa) | 175 comments So true, Tiffany. So many different ways to be family.

message 30: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 92 comments I think my other favorite part of the book was the way each character was able to reconcile their relationships at the end. It seemed that the characters were able to appreciate the role Thomas Stone had to play at the beginning and end of the lives of his children. There was an overall sense of forgiveness and understanding.

message 31: by Megan (new)

Megan Underwood | 267 comments Elizabeth wrote: "what does everyone think of the relationship between genet and marion? is it believable that he would love someone that is seemingly so disinterested in him as a person?

and what of the "expe..."

I believed in Marion’s feelings for Genet throughout the entire story. I think he wanted, so badly, to have a relationship similar to Hema and Ghosh’s, especially considering the unknown relationship between his birth parents. I also think it is believable that Marion still had feelings for Genet when they met in the US - at this point in his life he was still a virgin, did not have closure with Genet or Shiva, was homesick, and had a limited social life due to his studies. Also, Marion’s Type A personality, focused-stubborn-predictable-ambitious-controlling, guaranteed that he would follow every pursuit, love or career, to the end.

I found Genet to be more selfish than Shiva. I could understand Shiva’s betrayal more than Genet’s, because he was selfish in every aspect of his life and he read more like a robot than a real person. Shiva did not really understand feeling pain. Genet, on the other hand, was a lost soul who had the opportunity to have happiness in life because of Marion, but she gave that up time and time again in search for something better. This made her betrayal worse. Genet is one of those people who chases drama at the expense of anyone in her path. I loved Genet’s story though and found myself wanting to know Genet’s point of view more than Shiva’s.

I just finished this book last night and there is still so much to ponder. I don’t think this was Marion’s story, even though he was the narrator, but a story based on all the characters involved; a story of relationships. Verghese is a brilliant writer who has a gift for portraying personalities and emotions via words.

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