Saturday, 14 May 2011

Cutting for Stone - Abraham Verghese

Synopsis - Marion and Shiva Stone, half-Indian and half-British, are twins of a secret union at 'Missing', a hospital run by nuns.  Born in extra-ordinary circumstances, the brothers couldn't be more different but are bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared passion for medicine, and cricket.  They come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.  The Italians have left behind cappucino machines and Campari umbrellas.  But they've also left a nation crippled by poverty, hunger and authoritarian rule.  Yet it will be love, not politics, that tears the twins apart and forces Marion to flee to America.  When the past catches up with him, in a stunning twist, Marion must trust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world.

Review - This is a beautiful story which I highly recommend.  A big book and for once every word is relevant.  Beautifully written it is a story of surprise, love, betrayal, kindred spirit, politics, hurt, anger, religion and more.  You are told how the parents of the twins, Sister Mary Praise and the surgeon Thomas Stone meet on a ship destined for Aden.  This pair work well together in administering healing to those stricken down with typhus on the ship.  Circumstances bring Sister Mary to 'Missing' in Addis Ababa where Dr Stone works as a surgeon and for many years they work as a surgical team, neither knowing how much one loves the other.  The pregnancy is the best kept secret and the shock of losing the mother and the birth of the conjoined twins is too much for Stone.

The twins are brought up by Sister Mary's and Stone's colleagues, also doctors at 'Missing' with the help of Stone's housemaid and Hema and Ghosh's staff.  One of the staff gives birth to a girl and she is brought up like a sister to the boys.  Marion loves this girl Gemet but his love is not reciprocated.  The twins are very different.  Shiva's view of life is to live for the now and he sees life literally as it is.  He is very clever and has a photographic memory.  Marion the stronger twin, also clever is very shy and has a more humane approach to life.  He has to work harder than his twin who seems to take life for granted.  You cannot help but love Marion whose innocence and forgiving nature almost cost him his life and you start to feel less sorry for Shiva, whose start in life was slower than Marion's as he needed assistance at the beginning.  Shiva's personality almost comes through as brutal as he takes what he believes he is entitled with no regard for the consequences.  5*

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