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Cutting for Stone eBook

by Abraham Verghese

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A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novelan 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 mothers death in childbirth and their fathers 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 politicstheir passion for the same womanthat 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 himnearly destroying himMarion 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. An unforgettable journey into one mans remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.

I wish I still had this book in my future. I wish it were tucked away in a stack of books on my nightstand, waiting patiently for its turn to be read. I wish I were going home tonight to curl up in a chair with nothing to do but pick up this book and slowly -- savoringly, if that's a word* -- take it in, one page at a time. There's a lot to say about this book, but I'll simplify what could otherwise become a lengthy review (Me? Verbose? Nevah!) and say this: Cutting for Stone is a beautifully written story about fate, love and forgiveness. But see, even that doesn't quite do it justice, because it makes it sound like the next Oprah's Book Club selection. Sorry, Ops, but this book is so much more than that. It was the first story I've read in a long time that genuinely swept me away. It left me in tears at times, but always through the essence of the story -- never through manipulative sap. Its words were painterly -- careful but expressive. This is one for the esteemed shelf of my living room bookcase.

At page 200, I had yet to fall in love with this book - by the end, I was inexpressibly grateful to Abraham Varghese for creating this world and sharing it with me. There may be flaws in the book, but I was too mesmerized by the stories and the characters to notice them if there were. I'm guessing many readers feel the same way. Looking for the meaning of the phrase in the Hippocratic Oath the book's title is drawn from, "I shall not cut for stone," I came across a discussion threat in Goodreads. There was not a single comment on the writing: every comment was about whether the reader could forgive one character, or how much they mourned another. This is very much that kind of book - I'm guessing I'll carry it with me long after closing the cover for the last time.

"What treatment in the emergency room is administered by ear?" asked the renowned surgeon Thomas Stone [to over 200 young interns and students at a leading Boston medical teaching facility:]. I knew the answer because it was in his book, a book I had read carefully and more than once in my voyage out of Ethiopia and during my stay in Kenya. Surely, I thought, at least 50 would know the answer. No one spoke. I raised my hand, "Yes?" he said. All eyes were on me. I was in no hurry. None at all. I met his gaze and I did not blink." Words of comfort," I said to my father ... And thus a circle comes nearer to closing, 3/4s of the way through the book containing a remarkable story. The first three chapters describe the harrowing birth of twins in an Ethiopia mission hospital in 1954, as their mother, a young Indian nun, dies on the table, while the father, a young English surgeon, vainly tries to

overcome the shock of the secret pregnancy, the loss of his beloved literally before him, and the personal abyss he is rapidly descending into. My reaction after the first 130 pages was "how am I going to survive the next 500??!!" The story of these twins who lost their mother at birth, abandoned by their father who was caught in his own tortured world, raised by a tight family of caregivers living under a dysfunctional government of Haile Selassie (self titled 'Lion of Judah') and eventually the oppressive Marxist Mengistu regime, provides the reader no chance to develop expectations. Even if one reads the last few pages to get that glimpse, the turns, events and observations in-between are breathtaking, and more often profound than could be anticipated. And if the reader is not aware of medical procedures, or of the view that doctors and nurses must have of the world of their patients, then another layer of learning will be a bonus. I just couldn't believe this was a work of fiction - it was too amazing to have been imagined. I'm going to read the author's two other books.

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