June, 2012: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

(Book #26) Melissa hosted this meeting and we had a new member tonight — Cheryl joins us just as Ellen has decided to sign off from the group — so our number is unchanged.  [Cheryl was only with us for two or three book clubs before she moved out of Chicago but it was nice to have her with us.]  Melissa asked a young woman who helps take care of Melissa’s mother to do the cooking tonight. The woman was born in Morocco and is very talented in the kitchen. The first course was mint tea and two salads, one with a variety of peppers and the other with chick peas garlic and tomato. The main course was chicken and vegetables with couscous served with an amazing combo of onions and raisins. For dessert she served a fruit salad with rose water and oranges with cinnamon. Please assume that I haven’t done justice to the meal with my paltry description.

Everyone LOVED the book — we admitted that it starts off perhaps a teeny bit slow for some and the seasickness wasn’t all that pleasant to read, but once you are past that, it is one amazing read. First of all, the characters: we loved Ghosh, and Matron. We talked about Ghosh’s medical instruction — the use of the senses in medicine; we loved Matron’s closets filled with Bibles, labeled as operating theaters and dedicated to a benefactor. We read our favorite quotes, talked about the political climate, and praised the way in which Verghese captured the frailty of life as well as the strength of the spirit.

Favorite Quotes:

God will judge us, Mr. Harris, by what we did to relieve the suffering of our fellow human beings. I don’t think God cares what doctrine we embrace.

The world turns on our every action, and our every omission, whether we know it or not.

Tell us please, what treatment in an emergency is administered by ear?”….I met his gaze and I did not blink. “Words of comfort,” I said to my father.

There is a point when grief exceeds the human capacity to emote, and as a result one is strangely composed-

According to Shiva, life is in the end about fixing holes. Shiva didn’t speak in metaphors. fixing holes is precisely what he did. Still, it’s an apt metaphor for our profession. But there’s another kind of hole, and that is the wound that divides family. Sometimes this wound occurs at the moment of birth, sometimes it happens later. We are all fixing what is broken. It is the task of a lifetime. We’ll leave much unfinished for the next generation.