Book Review: Cutting for Stone

Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone has been sitting atop the fiction bestseller list for quite sometime. Many people had recommended it to me. I became intrigued when I read an interview that he did for Maurice on Books. And I purchased it for my nook.

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The story follows twin boys whose mother (an Indian nun and surgical nurse) died giving birth and whose famed surgeon of a father abandoned them in his shock and grief over the loss of the love of his life. The two were adopted by two doctors at the mission hospital in Ethiopia that they were born into. Told by Marion, the more socially aware twin, their lives under the tutelage of these Indian expat doctors was comfortable and educational.

Marion and Shiva’s connections and differences are challenged in the whole story. Shiva exhibits more Asperger-like qualities. He is exempt from exams and he is exempt from feeling the anguish that his brother feels daily for all of life’s trivialities, including unrequited love. In all honesty, Marion’s storytelling seems so angsty. I felt bogged down by his anger towards his brother.

The first 350 pages take place in Ethiopia. The last 200 in America. I honestly was about to give up on this book. The cases at the hospital in Addis Ababa were interesting, but the stories surrounding them felt very strained and full of Marion’s emotion. And it moved slowly for me. When Marion finally reached America, and his personal story free of his brother’s unfolds, I was able to settle into the book more. He is nearly independent of the source of his angst until he crosses paths with his father.

Overall, this book was a difficult read. I don’t know if it was because it was the first long book I read on the nook, or if it was because I was reading Lolita at the same time, but I could not get into it for the longest time. I don’t know that I really enjoyed much of the story until the end.

I would give this book a 2.5 out of 5.



5 responses

  1. I loved this book, but I agree that it’s a difficult read. I mean, there was something kind of oppressive about it–and, as you say, “angsty.” Quite a pairing with Lolita!

    I am working my way very slowly through Bleak House, and I feel like I’m being unfair to it by constantly putting it down to read other stuff, but my TBR list is so long and so, of course, is Bleak House. Happy reading!

  2. A lot of people have recommended this book to me. I’m just finishing up The Paris Wife, which has enough drama and angst for me right now. I think I will hold off on this one for a while. Thanks for the honest review.

    • I really enjoyed The Paris Wife and did a review of it sometime in March, I believe. They are different books, but I can understand wanting a lighter read for in between. Thanks for reading!

  3. IT is a very difficult book to start. I think for me it turned into something more enjoyable about half way through. Since it took me about three months to read the first half and i finish the second half in about a day and a half. (I started reading it only while waiting for my son at speech therapy) But I think the true story is one of redemption and forgiveness.

    I don’t know if I could have read it with Lolita. But I tend to read about 5 books at a time also. With at least one being for lack of a better word “fluff” But I do agree it was a difficult book to get into.

    • I think it took me that long to get through the first half as well! And then a week or so to finish it up. Maybe if I had paired it with lighter readings, I wouldn’t have felt so bogged down by everything. Thanks for reading!

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