Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Author: Abraham Verghese
Genre: Historical Fiction (India)
Type: Trade Paperback
Publisher: Division Books (a division of Random House)
First Published: 2009
First Line: "After eight months spent in the obscurity of our mother's womb, my brother, Shiva, and I came into the world in the late afternoon of the twentieth of September in the year of grace 1954."
Book Description: A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel—an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.
An unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.
My Thoughts: I have a confession. I gave up on this book and I don't do that easily. I figure that if an author spent months (or years) writing the book and I should give him/her the respect they deserve and hold on and try to get into the story. That's all well and good but if a book doesn't grab me in 100 pages I figure my responsibility as a reader has been met.
In fact, I read over 270 pages before finally deciding that this wasn't a book for me. I kept trying to get into it based on the extremely high ratings that it received on GoodReads as well as Amazon. Unfortunately I kept waiting for something major to happen, some sort of direction of the plot but it never did. It is a verbose read with its detailed descriptions of medical procedures; it has a lot of different characters (who were hard to distinguish), a tiresome dialogue and plot that didn't seem to have any direction.
That said, my opinion is just that. My opinion. There are many other readers out there who adored and gushed about this book. They passionately defend their reviews (and sometimes adamantly state their disagreements with lower rated reviews). I get that and understand that level of commitment to a book. I'd, respectfully, do the same for Harry Potter, 'Women of the Underworld' series and Sara Donati's 'Into The Wilderness' because I lurrrrve them and they hold a special place in my literary heart.
But besides the verbosity, slow plot and gaggle of characters the biggest thing that bothered me about this book was Marion as the main character. For some reason, Marion always had the voice of an adult ... even when he's telling about his life when he was an infant. Yes, Marion narrates the book even as an infant. The author expected the reader to just accept the fact that there's an articulate infant narrating the book -- and that didn't sit well with me. It just seemed odd to have a protagonist be so articulate and descriptive ... as an infant.
Overall, I can't say that I'd recommend this book but I'm glad that I gave it a good shot. I'd love to hear what you all thought of this book. Am I way off base here? Or did you have a similar experience with this book?
My Rating: 0 (I gave up on it)