The Covenant of Water (Oprah's Book Club) (Hardcover)

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The Covenant of Water (Oprah's Book Club) By Abraham Verghese Cover Image

The Covenant of Water (Oprah's Book Club) (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


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.

ABRAHAM VERGHESE is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the author of the NBCC Award finalist My Own Country and the New York Times Notable Book The Tennis Partner. His most recent book, Cutting for Stone, spent 107 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and sold more than 1.5 million copies in the U.S. alone. It was translated into more than twenty languages and is being adapted for film by Anonymous Content. Verghese was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2016, has received five honorary degrees, and is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He lives and practices medicine in Stanford, California where he is the Linda R. Meier and Joan F. Lane Provostial Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. A decade in the making, The Covenant of Water is his first book since Cutting for Stone.
Product Details ISBN: 9780802162175
ISBN-10: 0802162177
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2023
Pages: 736
Language: English