The Covenant of Water (Oprah's Book Club) (Hardcover)
May 2023 Indie Next List
“Another masterpiece by the great Abraham Verghese. The Covenant of Water will beguile and charm readers who loved Cutting for Stone and will win many new readers.”
— Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes Station, CA
The best books make our own lives recede, vanish completely, as we fall into the lives of others—until, in the end, our lives are illuminated in vivid and unforgettable flashes. The Covenant of Water does exactly that, immersing us in Southern India—in its history, its religions and castes and culture, as well as the lives of one family (and the parallel life of a Scottish doctor) through time and endless complications; the book’s characters fall in and out of love, parent children, harbor secrets, encounter obstacles, and endure pain physical and psychic. The reader is in thrall, page by riveting page, from the time a 12-year-old bride-to-be alights fearfully in Parambil, the new home in which her life will unspool—as wife, as mother, as matriarch—in ways she could never have foretold. Yet if family is the substance of this miracle of a novel so grounded in character, medicine is its spine, the backbone around which the tale is wrapped. Not just the science of medicine, the miracles that it can perform, the mysteries it can solve, but the DUTY of it. The care. This duty of care thrums through every one of the ten parts of this beyond-brilliant book, as does the balm of compassion. The result is a novel that grabs not just our interest, as we race spellbound through the story; not just our minds, each page a revelation into the sweep of history and the fascinating particularity of science; but most of all our hearts. We are so utterly captivated by the whole of it—by its narrative and its characters and the history and landscape it portrays, by the world view it imparts and the empathy that is at its core—that it becomes one with us. This is the best of novels. Perhaps the best ever. Miraculous doesn’t begin to describe it.— From Betsy Burton
OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK - INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - SUBJECT OF A SIX-PART SUPER SOUL PODCAST SERIES HOSTED BY OPRAH WINFREY
From the New York Times-bestselling author of Cutting for Stone comes a stunning and magisterial epic of love, faith, and medicine, set in Kerala, South India, following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret"One of the best books I've read in my entire life. It's epic. It's transportive . . . It was unputdownable "--Oprah Winfrey, OprahDaily.com
The Covenant of Water is the long-awaited new novel by Abraham Verghese, the author of the major word-of-mouth bestseller Cutting for Stone, which has sold over 1.5 million copies in the United States alone and remained 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. At the turn of the century, a twelve-year-old girl from Kerala's long-existing Christian community, grieving the death of her father, is sent by boat to her wedding, where she will meet her forty-year-old husband for the first time. From this unforgettable new beginning, the young girl--and future matriarch, known as Big Ammachi--will witness unthinkable changes over the span of her extraordinary life, full of joy and triumph as well as hardship and loss, her faith and love the only constants.
A shimmering evocation of a bygone 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 difficulties undergone by past generations for the sake of those alive today. It is one of the most masterful literary novels published in recent years.