The Conflict to Come in Cutting for Stone

23 Apr The Conflict to Come in Cutting for Stone

Abraham Verhese, New York Times bestselling author of Cutting For Stone


Why is it that the months seem to be soaring by this spring? According to my Kindle, I’m 27% of the way through our current novel, Cutting for Stone. With our book club meeting to discuss this novel scheduled for next week, I am lamenting the fact I am not a speed reader. Yikes!

I’m enjoying the book immensely, however, so should be able to devote some evening time to it. The beautiful prose combined with intriguing characters will keep me turning the pages.

At this point, the great conflict between the narrating protagonist, Marion Stone, and his twin brother, Shiva, has not yet developed–probably because they are newborn babies! Although it’s interesting, and I do appreciate the manner in which Verhese hints at the conflict to come between brothers and father and brother, as the competent but completely crazed surgeon attempting to deliver his own children, Dr. Thomas Stone, makes a mess of things in the operating theater. It isn’t until Sister Mary Joseph Praise is on her death bed in delivery that Dr. Stone admits to himself that he is in love with her. After she saved his life on that dreadful ship and then worked with him for seven years at Missing Hospital, the two became more than colleagues. Connected constantly, they became as one in many ways, with Sister Mary reading and meeting the needs of the surgeon at work, and clearly, outside of the operating theater as well. Dr. Stone is sadly tragic as his focussed obsession with work leaves him blind to the gift of love before him. As Sister Mary slips away, Dr. Stone’s grief manifests itself in a loss of control, both surgically, as he attempts to kill Shiva in order to save the mother, and is unable to perform the C-section the situation calls for, and of course, personally, as he is about to lose the love of his life.

Meanwhile, the very competent, bold and beautiful obstetrician, Hema, is enroute back to Missing Hospital after visiting her parents in India, when she too is called to dramatically examine her life. As the plane she is traveling spirals out of control, the ocean below rising up to meet the belly of the bird, Hema is struck with the realization that she hasn’t led the beautiful life she’d like to. AsĀ  a young boy is thrown off balance, his foot becoming wedged between two jute sacks, resulting in a fracture, Hema comforts him and it occurs to her,

…the tragedy of death had to do entirely with what was left unfulfilled. She was ashamed that such a simple insight should have eluded her all these years. Make something beautiful of your life , Wasn’t that the adage Sister Mary Joseph Praise lived by? …

…this whimpering little fellow with his shiny eyes and long eyelashes, his oversize head and the puppy-dog scent of his unruly hair…he was about the most beautiful thing one could make.

And with that, wonderful foreshadowing is set in motion, as surely Hema will live to make her way back to Missing, where she will mother the abandoned boys.

See you on Wednesday for more on this marvelous book.