Author: Abraham Verghese
Published by: Grove Press on May 2, 2023
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Publishers Group Canada
Book Rating: 10/10
From the New York Times–bestselling author of Cutting for Stone comes 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.
The Covenant of Water is the long-awaited new novel by Abraham Verghese, the author of Cutting for Stone. Published in 2009, Cutting for Stone became a literary phenomenon, selling over 1.5 million copies in the United States alone and remaining on the New York Times bestseller list for over two years.
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.
Sensuous, poignant, and elaborately plotted!
The Covenant of Water is a powerful, riveting, emotionally-charged multi-generational story that sweeps you away to Southern India between 1900 and 1977 and into the lives of the Parambil family, especially the women, and all the secrets, smiles, tears, misery, curses, grief, compassion, strength, powerful emotions, and unimaginable tragedy that has tied them together through the years.
The prose is lyrical and expressive. The characters are multi-layered, tormented, resilient, and vulnerable. And the plot is a heart-tugging, incredibly immersive tale of life, love, loss, grief, family, friendship, ambitions, courage, desperation, self-preservation, motherhood, infectious diseases, medical interventions, and devastating genetic afflictions.
Overall, The Covenant of Water is the perfect blend of historical facts and compelling fiction. It’s a hefty book at just over 700 pages, but it’s a book that needs to be read and a book that needs to be savoured, and just like Verghese’s previous novel Cutting for Stone, it is so beautifully written, unique, impactful and memorable that I am sure to be recommending it for many years to come.
This book is available now.
Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.
Thank you to PGC Books for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.