Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese has been on my nightstand since January. I was SO excited that this author had written another book. I had enjoyed his first two books -- memoirs -- especially My Own Country: A Doctor's Story, which is probably in my top ten of favorite books ever.

I received an advance copy of the book, but it was SO thick, and I had lots of other reading to do for 5 Minutes for Books, so it just sort of sat there a while. When I finally started, it was a bit slow-going for me, but I kept going, knowing that I trusted the author.

Cutting for Stone is the story of twin brothers Marion and Shiva who lose both their mother (by death) and their father (by abandonment) at birth. The two doctors in the primitive country Ethiopian hospital where they were born take them in.

This is one of those epic novels -- spanning 25 years or so of the twins' lives -- more, if you include flashbacks to the other characters' early lives. It also spans several countries -- India, Ethiopia, America.

But by page 200 or so, I still felt as if I was waiting for something to kick in.

It wasn't a bad book at all -- the characters and setting are wonderful, the writing is great -- but for whatever reason it just never grabbed me. The ending was quite satisfying, wrapping up many loose ends, but not in a contrived way at all.

To be fair, most reviews I've read for this book are wonderful, and that makes me glad. In fact, I think that I would still recommend this book to people who are interested in this type of tale. It just makes me feel like someone who is colorblind while everyone else is enjoying the rainbow, because I really wanted to love this book, because I can highly recommend his other works, especially My Own Country: A Doctor's Story (which I think I need to re-read since it's been years and years since I first read it).

And when Abraham Verghese's next novel or memoir comes out, I'll pick it up to read without hesitation.

In this Sunday's "On Reading" column at 5 Minutes for Books, there will be a column about my reader's notebook, featuring my notes while I was reading Cutting for Stone.

This review is linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books.


Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

I get very frustrated by books where I can get in 50 or 100 (or 200!) pages and still not have a driving desire to see what happens next, or still not feel like I know the book's overall question. I admire that you stuck with it...not sure if I could have done the same.

Sandra said...

Glad to hear from someone who knows the author's other works. I'm not put off by a weaker book in a writer's oeuvre either if they're otherwise consistently good. I will read this book.
I did really like The Weight of Heaven. I'd love to look through all your reviews Jennifer but I can't see any link to them. Do I have to just use the archives buttons? Or do they all appear over at 5 Minutes for Books?