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  1. 1

    Sudha

    I think I’m a bit late to the party with this one, but I just finished renaidg it last night. A compelling story which, for the most part, had me completely absorbed, yet I’d have to say I liked rather than loved it. Surprisingly (to me anyway) my favourite aspect of it was the medicine/surgery many of the characters in the books are great teachers and I suspect Verghese himself is one too. Even when I didn’t understand the jargon (and there were words and phrases in here I was familiar with from years of watching TV medical dramas but until I read this didn’t know what they meant) I thought he described the surgeries so clearly and so well, that I feel almost like I could go out and repair a torn inferior vena cava or perform a vasectomy right now! I also very much enjoyed the middle section where he gave a flavour of the country and the various coups and tensions I think somewhere in the comments above you mention this as the weakest section, but for me I thought it was the best bit, though I also very much enjoyed Marion’s early days in New York (before half the cast from the Ethiopian section started cropping up!).Most of the characters were very well-written too Marion, Ghosh, Thomas Stone, Matron, Deepak all of these will stay with me for some time I think. Though I never felt like Hema or Shiva came to life in the way I would have liked. Hema in particular is introduced, in an odd chapter whose tone doesn’t really fit with the rest of the novel, as a (literally) ball-breaking, stereotype-defying sari-clad virago, yet for most of the rest of the book this character seemed absent, replaced by a different, rather blank Hema.I also could have done with the novel being more tightly edited the first section (although it gave room for Verghese to introduce his cast and fill in their backstories) seemed to drag on forever, the action in the operating theatre progressing at a snail’s pace towards an outcome that the prologue had already foreshadowed, and until about page 150 I kept toying with abandoning the book. Another aspect of the novel I had trouble with was the dialogue Verghese’s prose is elegant but his characters have a tendency to speak in a way that doesn’t always sound natural and I could imagine this being more evident if there is an audiobook version.So, a book I’m glad I read and one I enjoyed quite a bit. I can see it connected with you (and many others) a lot more than it did with me, but I certainly don’t regret the week I spent in its company.

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