Although I am still a month away from posting my annual Favorite Books Year in Review (always in late July), from where I sit, this book will likely be at the top. It is an absolutely remarkable work of fiction. I might just read it again….and that rarely happens. Here is my book review The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese.
It’s been at least a decade since I read the beautiful Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. That book, like his newly released The Covenant of Water, is a family saga that spans many decades. I loved Cutting for Stone but I loved The Covenant of Water even more.
The Covenant of Water begins in 1900’s India where we are introduced to Mariama, a 12-year old child, preparing for her wedding to a forty- year old widower. As Mariama tearfully says good-bye to her mother, the decades long narrative, and legacy of Mariama begins. The Covenant of Water will follow the incredible lives of Mariama (whose endearment name will become Big Ammachi – grandmother) and her descendants, (including family that is not blood), the remarkable changes in India during this period, and the family secrets – including a family “condition”. The feared condition plays out when someone from each generation drowns. But why?
Simultaneously we are also introduced to young Doctor Digby Kilgore, who has arrived in India from Scotland to practice medicine. Here he finds himself among the white British elite during the British Raj, who are ruling the country, and he falls in love with the wife of one of his colleagues. A tragic accident will change Digby’s trajectory in unimaginable ways. It should be noted that Verghese himself is a medical doctor (on top of his other accomplishments) which makes the medical writing of this novel even more fascinating.
Superb Writing and Narration
Over the nearly 80’s years this brilliant novel traverses, Verghese captivates the reader with endearing characters, fascinating plot and most of all, magnificent writing filled with empathy and intrigue. The book is long, but an alluring page turner. Even better, if you listen to it on Audible, the author himself reads the novel, and it is pure theatrical beauty. My book review The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese can’t praise it enough. Deserving of a Pulitzer. And likely a movie deal.
Book Review The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
I had the opportunity to hear Abraham Verghese speak at the Seattle Public Library, on the very day I finished this masterpiece. What a joy that was to listen to him read live, from one of the best books I have read in years. He has a calm but intelligent personality with a subtle wit and so very humble. He wears many hats, considers himself first and foremost a doctor not a writer. Learn more about this fascinating man here.
*****Five stars and more for The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese.
See last week’s book review Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk.
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