Monday, September 19, 2011

The Review

I don't know where to begin on this book.

Verghese's descriptions made Ethiopia come alive for me. I could see it.  I could smell it.  Most importantly, I came to love it, love it as the author does.
Verghese's gift for language made me reread passages and even mark a few for future reference. Such manipulation of words is a rare talent.
Verghese's story kept me turning pages and wanting more. Occasionally I could predict where the story was generally headed, but the way Verghese arrived at the destination was creative and interesting.
Verghese's realistic, human characters enveloped me in their lives and sorrows.  Since this is our book club's book for the month, I won't talk too much about this, but I came to love Ghosh and his choices and his character.  I wished the story could also be told from his perspective, and from the perspective of Shiva as well.
Verghese's moral compelled me to ponder upon the old slippers I have in my own closet and what I need to do with them. (Don't want to give too much away here.)

Verghese's unique perspective as an Indian who lived in Ethiopia and grew up to be a doctor translated easily to a person like me who has none of that life experience or background. He described medical procedures in ways that made them not only interesting but intriguing, helping the reader understand the compunction a person feels to become a doctor.

I wish I could whole-heartedly recommend this book, but I can't.  All I could think as I was reading it was this:
It has been a long time since I've read a book that I felt was so well-planned, so well-written.  Why the unnecessarily descriptive scenes?  Why? 

Not a book I would recommend to young adults.  Not a book I would want my kids finding and skimming the pages.  Was it worth it?  I still don't know.

Anyone else who's read it care to weigh in?  If you haven't, what's your opinion of too much violence or sex in a book?  I'd love to hear.


  1. For me, sometimes it has to do with what I remember when I'm finished with a book. If it's the violence or sex that sears my mind, then no, I wouldn't recommend it. Judging a book's appropriateness is often a very personal exercise. Because of my life experience, some things are deeply offensive to me, that may not be to someone else, or something may make little impression on me that devastates another reader. Wow, this is my longest comment ever.

  2. I tried to read this one a couple of times unsuccessfully.
    It just didn't grab me.

  3. Sounds so interesting, and I love those books that make you really think. For me, it all depends on the story. If it seems to be a focus, or there are a lot of the scenes you're talking about thrown in I just stop. Other times it seems necessary to the story, and so I just let it go. If I find myself unable to let that part of the story go, or if it is really troubling me, I know I have to stop reading. Kind of a book by book thing. Wish I was there to come to book club! Sounds like it will be a great discussion.

  4. I often feel that way about movies. Fortunately with books we can skip over those parts.

  5. I know what you mean - I've read books that I just LOVED. Except for ... I agree with Laraine - if that's all you can remember, rather than the great things about the book, then the unpleasant parts are just too much in your face. But everything is subjective, I guess.

  6. I agree with Laraine, too. I did enjoy reading the book, and I don't have a strong recollection of being offended.

    My friend went to see this author when he was speaking in our area, and she was quite impressed with him.