"Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese was recommended to me by a friend in Cincinnati (though she's still reading it). It is a very long book and as I began it I wasn't sure I was going to like it. Well, it's one of those books that grows on you. There are a considerable number of characters and the author makes sure you understand them before getting on with the main story. There's Sister Mary Joseph Praise - an Indian nun serving in Ethiopia, though that's not where she originally sets out for. And Thomas Stone - an English doctor who also ends up at a hospital in Addis Abba. Dr. Kalpana Hemlatha (called Hema) is a gynecologist from Madras, India and Dr. Abhi Ghosh (called Ghosh) is an internist also from Madras, both of whom end up at the Missing Hospital where Stone and Sister Mary find themselves. The author tells their background stories as the birth of twin boys takes place - the children of Sister Mary Joseph Praise and Thomas Stone. You never find out what Sister Mary thinks of this because she dies as her sons are removed by C - section. As for their father, he is stunned and disappears from their lives immediately. Hema and Ghosh marry and raise the twins as their own. The rest of the book is the saga of their lives as told by one of the twins, Marion.
By reading this book I learned about Ethiopia and the political turmoil there in the 60s and 70s. I learned about medicine, diseases, and the human anatomy - both twins go on to be doctors following in Hema's and Ghosh's footsteps. The author is a doctor and writes accurately I'm sure as he describes procedures and ailments.
Finally this novel is of family. The one created once the twins are taken by Hema as her own. By Ghosh as he marries Hema and becomes their father. It extends to their servants like Rosina, their nanny and her daughter Genet who is raised like a sister to the twins. There's Matron, the head of the Missing Hospital who is like a grandmother and Gebrew the gatekeeper and priest and Almaz, the cook, who are like an uncle and aunt. Though no one is related by blood they are a family nevertheless.
Do you wonder what happened to Thomas Stone? He does reappear, but I can't tell you more than that.