"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, February 1, 2024


The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese

Beginning quote:

1900, Travancore, South India

She is twelve years old, and she will be married in the morning. Mother and daughter lie on the mat, their wet cheeks glued together.

"The saddest day of a girl's life is the day of her wedding," her mother says. "After that, God willing, it gets better."

Friday56 quote (or from some page):

“Ammachi, when I come to the end of a book and I look up, just four days have passed. But in that time I’ve lived through three generations and learned more about the world and about myself than I do during a year in school. Ahab, Queequeg, Ophelia, and other characters die on the page so that we might live better lives.”

Summary: The Covenant of Water is an epic story following three generations (1900-1977) in Kerala on India's Malabar (Southern) Coast. The family has a secret, a peculiar affliction -- at least one person per generation has died by drowning. This is a problem not only because of untimely deaths but because water is everywhere in the region of India. The family is part of a community known as Thomas Christians, said to be founded by the Apostle Thomas back in the first century CE. The story begins when the woman who becomes Big Ammachi (Big Mother) moves to Kerala when she is but twelve-years-old to marry a widower trice her age. His first wife drowned. She is a witness to unthinkable changes in her family and her country over the span of her life. Many of those changes relate to medicine and patient care. Is there a cure for what ails this family?

Review: The headline in the Washington Post review for The Covenant of Water reads: "Oprah chose well. The Covenant of Water is a rich heartfelt novel." I agree. In fact, The Covenant of Water has everything I like in a book: a detailed plot -- in this case one which covers three generations of a family and many/many side characters; characters who are fully fleshed out, not one-dimensional beings; a theme which is very evident throughout the whole text; literary quotes and thoughts interspersed throughout; an author who treats his readers as intelligent and knowledgeable -- in this case about medical and genetic issues; AND, this may not surprise you, one which clearly has a very spiritual, often scriptural, message.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Verghese himself. This was a rare treat because I got to listen to his beautiful India accent but also learned how to pronounce previously unknown words and locations to me. The 30+ hours of listening made me feel like I had practically moved to India and more specifically to Parambil, the family estate, built as far away from the nearby river as it could be for fear of the water.

Abraham Verghese is novelist (“Cutting for Stone”), doctor and professor of medicine — introduces his enormous new novel, “The Covenant of Water,” with a personal note to advance readers: His late mother, Mariam, “was an incredible storyteller” who “wrote a forty-page manuscript” in response to a grandchild’s query about her life. “In this novel,” Verghese declares, “I draw on some of those stories.” He dedicates the book — 10 years in the making — to his mother. (WaPo)

Verghese draws on his own life and his knowledge of medicine to enhance and enrich this book. It is masterfully written, a story in which one can get lost for days...and I did! At book club each member was asked if what she thought of the book. One member, Becky, told the group that she loved the book so much, she didn't want it to end. And that is saying a lot since the book is 724 pages long! 

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As many of you know Freda over at Freda's Voice hosted #Friday56 for many years. On September 7th she told us she was going through some personal stuff and could no longer host. I've attempted to reach her but have had no reply. So I will host The Friday56 until she comes back. Help me communicate with past participants so they can figure out where and how to find me, please post this post's URL on your blog. Thanks.

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