Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

When I first was reading this story, I couldn't believe how big of a novel it was.  When I was about a third of the way through I understood why.  It is one of those stories that needs the expanded time to explain, that needs the artistic creation to exemplify what Verghese wanted to share.  For me, it was a classic novel.

Before we even discussed the book one member emailed her thoughts:  "Verghese is such a superb writer, it is hard to imagine that this is his second career. Set in Ethiopia made it fascinating to me with Italian colonization, Mussalini, then civil war as a background to the story of the twins Marion and Shiva life. With Marion as a narrator he tells the story of their lives. I fell in love with these characters and the challenges they faced. The ending seemed a little too neatly tied up. It seemed implausible that Thomas Stone operated on his long lost twins and saved their lives. But I did get caught up in the story and it made me feel good that all strings came together in the end of the novel. This was one of the best books we have read for a while."  And another one emailed:  "I read the book in 2012, and loved it just as much this second time around. I think Verghese is just brilliant."

There were seven of us at the Book Club, many out of town traveling these next few months, but we had a lively discussion about the book.  EVERYONE LOVED IT.  Someone said "Epic" in their description of the book, another said "characters are well-developed, you can get into their heads and I'm in awe in the writing style and his own experiences."  Three people in the book club had mentioned that they have read this before, and all said they enjoyed reading it the second time around, one stating she had her "horizons stretched twice."

We talked about the characters of the book, the medical part, the historical information written into it, and how it brought to us, the real meaning of a family.  A few times in the book we noted that real family wasn't just biological, both in Ethiopia and in New York, family included those who you worked with and were a team with.

We liked several of the messages through out the book, and I hope members comment below, as one has already.

One of my favorite quotes of the book:  "You are an instrument of God. Don't leave the instrument sitting in its case, my son. Play! Leave no part of your instrument unexplored. Why settle for 'Three Blind Mice' when you can can play the 'Gloria'? No, not Bach's 'Gloria.' Yours! Your 'Gloria' lives within you. The greatest sin is not finding it, ignoring what God made possible in you.”

I think Abraham Verghese followed his advice in this book -- He completed his own movement, his own piece of what God has made possible in him.