Cutting For Stone


How did I get it?
I borrowed it from Beth.


Transporting the reader from the 1940s to the present, from a convent in India to a cargo ship bound for the Yemen, from a tiny operating theatre in Ethiopia to a hospital in the Bronx, Cutting for Stone is a thrilling epic of conjoined twins, doctors and patients, temptation and redemption, home and exile – and a riveting family story, irresistibly charged with strange happenings, humour and pathos, that grabs you from its harrowing opening and never lets go. Marion and Shiva Stone, half-Indian and half-British, are twin sons of a secret union at ‘Missing’, a hospital run by nuns in Addis Ababa. Born in extraordinary circumstances, the brothers couldn’t be more different – Marion, introspective and eager to please, Shiva, a loner with fewer scruples and a photographic memory – 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 in Addis cappuccino machines and Campari umbrellas. But they’ve also left a nation crippled by poverty, hunger, and authoritarian rule: Ethiopia in the 1960s and 1970s is both bolstered and trapped by its emperor, Haile Selassie. Yet it will be love, not politics – their passion for the same woman – that tears the twins apart and forces Marion to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as a surgical intern at an underfunded, overcrowded hospital.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. Cutting for Stone is both an unforgettable story of lives cut in half and a gripping evocation of the power, intimacy, danger and curious beauty of the art of medicine. A masterly debut novel, it is visceral in its power, heartbreaking in its tenderness.


This book has been on my Kindle for so long. I was pleased when I picked its title out of my TBR box for my October challenge. It is such a long book compared to what I’m used to (675 pages), so it took me a lot longer to read than usual. I think Cutting For Stone is a good read, but you have to be prepared to invest the time with it. It’s certainly not a simple read.

I could certainly tell that Abraham Verghese is a doctor. There’s quite a lot of surgeries in the plot, which are explained in quite some detail. So, if you’re super squeamish beware. I think the fact that there were so many surgeries is what made me give this book three stars instead of four. I felt like the book began to feel like a medical textbook. The story became a bit disjointed for me, it began to feel more factual than fiction.

The story is based on two twins, born in Ethiopia. They are close until an incident tears them apart. They begin separate journeys through life. My version was 675 pages long, I thought this would mean that their journeys would be in depth, but I found that some aspects of their lives were rushed over, and others were pulled apart.

The pace may be slow in this book, but I think the writing is rich and really quite deep. I think I would’ve liked it to have been shorter, but I didn’t feel frustrated or bored by the length of the book. I don’t think this book is for every reader, but I think it’s one that you’re going to have to try to see if you like it!

Would I recommend it?:

Reading next:
The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen- Lindsay Ashford


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