“After reading Abraham Verghese’s ‘Cutting for Stone’ a couple of years ago, I couldn’t wait to read his latest novel, ‘The Covenant of Water.’

“Reminiscent of Pearl Buck’s ‘The Good Earth,’ this story spans the years 1900 to 1977, and the center of activity is an Indian estate known as Parambil. Starting with the marriage of a 12-year-old girl to the 40-year-old estate owner, a widower, the story follows three generations of this family through all that India experiences in those years: wars, British rule, independence, famine, disease and the ongoing caste system. But the history is only a backdrop for the heart of the story: the lives, loves, joys, and painful losses of the family that occupies Parambil and the ‘Condition’ that haunts them. In each generation, one or more family members die by drowning, despite the hyper-vigilance of relatives and the precautions taken by those believed to be at risk. The Condition is real, but medical knowledge and expertise are slow to arrive in this part of India.

“Verghese’s characters are vividly drawn, and the reader becomes intimately acquainted with each of them. Their intertwined stories make this saga unforgettable. As one of the characters comes to realize, ‘This is the covenant of water: that they’re all linked inescapably by their acts of commission and omission, and that no one stands alone.’” – RITA BROWN, Kennebunkport


Mainers, please email to tell us about the book on your bedside table. In a paragraph or two, describe the book and be sure to tell us what drew you to it. What makes it a can’t-miss read for the rest of us? For readers, the long, dark nights equal the cozy reading season: We want to hear what you are reading now and why. We’re asking Mainers we know love to read; we’re looking for both repeat recommenders and those of you who just want to tell us about one good book. Send your selection to pgrodinsky@pressherald.com, and we may use it as a future Bedside Table.

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