Monday, November 29, 2010


Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese, Alfred A Knopf, 2009, 534 pp

 I looked forward to this book for quite a long time. I do love long books but have become wary of them lately because I have such a lot to get through for my memoir research that I get a little nuts when it takes more than a day or two to read one. Thanks to one of my reading groups for selecting Cutting for Stone because now I have read it.

  I must confess that it was not as great as I had been led to believe. All the medical terms and procedures sent me to the dictionary over and over. That's alright. I don't mind learning new things, but it slowed me down just when I wanted to forge ahead in the story.

 Then there was a stylistic problem for me. The tone of the writing was a bit too formal and emotionally restrained, especially since the story contains bottomless wells of emotion existing in almost every character.

 What I did like, very much, was the history of the twin brothers, the setting in Ethiopia, and the mystery of what ever happened to Dr Stone. I was also fascinated by the female characters for their strength and courage, though I thought that Genet was more a victim of her times than the irresponsible and untrustworthy woman portrayed by Verghese. 

 Perhaps I am somewhat old-fashioned (LOL, considering how long I have been reading novels) but I like a big novel to fill my heart as much as my mind. It could be related to the author's birthplace (Ethiopia) and subsequent life, a cultural disconnect, but Cutting for Stone did not have the emotional impact I expected.

(Cutting for Stone is available in paperback on the shelf at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)


  1. I know exactly what you mean by being reluctant to read long novels. I definitely want to read War and Peace and Gravity's Rainbow but I have tons of of other smaller books I want to read as well. One of my favorite books is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell but I have only been able to get myself through it in it's entirety once (however I am currently listening to it on CD).

  2. Another long book that was so worth it for me was The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.