The Covenant of Water – Abraham Verghese

The Covenant of Water – Abraham Verghese

I had about this novel at book club and I bought a copy as a gift, which came back to me so I could read it too – perfect gift.

Here’s the blurb …

A stunning and magisterial new epic of love, faith, and medicine, set in Kerala and following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret.
Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning—and in Kerala, water is everywhere. The family is part of a Christian community that traces itself to the time of the apostles, but times are shifting, and the matriarch of this family, known as Big Ammachi—literally “Big Mother”—will witness unthinkable changes at home and at large over the span of her extraordinary life. All of Verghese’s great gifts are on display in this new work: there are astonishing scenes of medical ingenuity, fantastic moments of humor, a surprising and deeply moving story, and characters imbued with the essence of life.

A shimmering evocation of a lost India and of the passage of time itself, The Covenant of Water is a hymn to progress in medicine and to human understanding, and a humbling testament to the hardships undergone by past generations for the sake of those alive today. It is one of the most masterful literary novels published in recent years.

I read Cutting for Stone – a few years ago and enjoyed it, so I was keen to read this one. It is quite the epic, over 700 pages, but, unusually, I didn’t think it could do with some editing. It’s beautifully evocative. The settings, the characters, the family “condition” where every generation someone (or multiple people) drown were intriguing and compelling. At its heart it’s about love and family.

A review

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