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Cutting for Stone
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January 2012: Cutting for Stone

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Stephanie | 31 comments Mod
This is one of the few books we've read together as a group that made me break down in tears (wait, maybe that's a lot of the times...) Abraham Verghese's poetic delivery of his words has a dramatic impact on this novel. The content is ever so dramatic without being too pronounced; melancholy but yet content. It's a wild mix of emotions that defines humanity which you know so well. The first few chapters did start off a bit slow for me but took a dramatic turn towards the middle, completely engaging me into the story of love, jealousy, redemption and forgiveness. I found the characters to be so real and human, which drove me to fall in love with them (especially Ghosh!!!). The exotic setting in Africa, where a lot of the story takes place, was a bonus, and I even enjoyed some of the vivid details behind surgical procedures. I wasn't able to find out whether the liver surgery that was conducted in the book was actually a real surgery... does anyone know?

Mimi (mimichen) | 30 comments I struggled for the first hundred so pages of Cutting for Stone until I really got into it. Fortunately, I had the encouragement of other members of our book group who had read farther to keep me going. The story of family, love, anger, forgiveness, and vocation had bits of humor which lightened it up but when I first started reading, I did not understand why so little was happening. Now, that I've finished it I can only guess that Abraham Verghese was trying to depict the love for the admirable character of Shiva and Marion's mother that caused Thomas Stone to flee his children leaving them to their fates. Even so, I thought that the treatment of Thomas Stone's other great love, his mother, was very uneven compared to Sister Mary Joseph Praise. Beginning with the dramatic death of Sister Mary Joseph Praise and birth of the twins was certainly attention getting, but I thought it made the first hundred pages of the narrative leading up to their birth less exciting in comparison. The book really picked up for me with the depiction of Ghosh, the twins' relationship, and Marion's residency in the US. Then, the last part of the book with the introduction of Thomas Stone and return of Genet seemed too brief.

How the twins grew apart wasn't that clear to me. Shiva started dancing, and would retreat into his own world and Marion was also developing his own interests but I had a hard time understanding how they began so close, to being so emotionally distant. I would've liked more exploration of the loneliness that Marion felt from his twin.

Then the character of Genet seemed less fully formed than some of the minor characters who helped at the hospital, around the house, and the hospital dogs. Genet wasn't a belivable femme fatale for me. This boyish crush for a pretty, but careless girl. I'd expect Charles Dickens's Pip's adoration of Estalla for the betrayal that occurred between the brothers. If Genet was described similar to the characters of Great House, someone who was always searching for home because she was raised by a single mother, then I would've empathized with her more. At the end of Great Expectations, Estella returns defeated and so does Genet, but Genet didn't seem to have the haunting presence in Marion's life that Sister Mary Joseph Praise had on Thomas. Marion seemed more driven by his anger and ego, than his love for Genet.

I think that the book attempted to create strong female characters in Sister Mary Joseph Priase, the Matron, Hema, and Tsige but the stronger directly influences on Marion were the males in his life like Ghosh, Deepak, B.C., and Thomas Stone. Overall, I really enjoyed this book for the armchair traveling and am glad to have read it.

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