Cutting for Stone is a sweeping epic of a novel centered on two twins, born of the union between an Indian nun and an English doctor in a mission hospital on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia. The novel takes on love, loss, betrayal, revolution and ultimately forgiveness as it spans many decades in the lives of the twins, Marion and Shiva, and those closest to them.
I went in to this book with no knowledge of the subject matter, though I had heard many praise the novel. Immediately, I was caught up in theses character’s lives, first in India for several, then Ethiopia for the bulk of the novel. Even the smallest characters are fleshed out and fully realized, in a way that is both accessible and educational. In addition, the medical and historical stories that set the stage for much of the action are well-written and fascinating.
The biggest flaw of this book is the pacing. At about 650 pages, this book is a long read. While not a complaint, per se, but the culmination of interwoven stories comes to a head only in the last 75 pages, making it feel rushed after the leisurely pace of much of the novel. However, the wonderful prose that Verghese uses to bring this story to life more than makes up for the hasty ending.