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Reviews of ‘The Covenant of Water’

Reviewer: @toallthebooksiread_ (Instagram)

Rating: 6/5

“Every family has secrets, but not all secrets are meant to deceive.”

Abraham Verghese didn’t play when he wrote this masterpiece of a book. It’ll forever be in my heart and mind.

The Covenant of Water is a story that portrays the journey through generations with one thing in common: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning. Big Ammachi, the matriarch and the glue that holds the family together, offers the one thing she knows best: her “willingness to be wounded”.

While the story drowns the characters in grief that never gets better, it drowns the reader in tears unstoppable.

The writer is a gifted storyteller, one with knowledge and faith and poetry.

The manner in which the characters are portrayed is both gripping and unlike anything I’ve read. Their ambitions and limitations make one appreciate life in its simplest form.

Verghese ensured that I felt every single emotion, cried with everything worth a teardrop, and secretly prayed that what I just read was only a fragment of my imagination.

Given the chance, I wouldn’t erase or add anything into the story.

It’s a literary pleasure and perfection.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

(it broke my scale!)

Review Online

Reviewer: @nutreats (Instagram)

Rating: 4/5

In a nutshell

Set in 1900 Kerala, South India, a 12-year-old girl is sent by boat to her wedding where she will meet her forty-year-old-husband for the first time. This begins the story of future matriarch, Big Ammachi and the joy, triumphs, hardships and loss she will witness over the span of her life and beyond.

Book Club Notes

This is a breathtaking novel that is brilliant on every level you can judge a book by. The storyline is phenomenal, the backdrop is rich, the characters are exceptionally crafted, the twists are shocking, the emotions are real and, most powerfully, the writing is exquisite.

When you read the synopsis of this book, your mind starts to form an idea of what kind of tragic story might unfold, but you will be wrong. The multi-generation family story that starts with a twelve-year-old girl getting married, unfolds across 77 years in ways you can’t imagine.

I’ve read a lot of really good novels, with powerful stories that are akin to having your heart wrenched, but I can’t recall being so wowed by the writing. The way Abraham Verghese portrays a time in history, a place in history, complex characters, and a family legacy is masterful. Specifically the way he manages to make you feel like you can see into the souls of the characters without obviously describing their essence is unmatched.

It may be 715 pages, but when you reach the end you’ll be sad to say goodbye.

Read If

You want to read the best novel of your life.

Review Online

Reviewer: @booklover_lauren (Instagram)

Rating: 5/5

5⭐️ My best of 2023 (I’m convinced there won’t be another to top this one). A beautifully written story about family, faith, love, forgiveness and medicine that follows three generations and spans 77 years.

Set in India, The Covenant of Water follows a family that suffers from an inexplicable condition – in each generation at least one person drowns to death.

My favourite, and a central figure in the book is Big Ammachi, who joins the “cursed” family as a child bride but becomes its powerful matriarch, and ultimately the person who sets into motion events that could finally free the family from a fear of the water that has haunted generations.

As Big Ammachi grows from a little girl to an independent woman, so does India; the story of the country’s liberation from colonial rule and the effects thereof being beautifully weaved into the book in every chapter.

I had a soft spot for every member of the family (Baby Mol 🥹 IYKYK) All the characters in the book are so well written, their life experiences representing the best and at times the worst of humanity. There is also a great focus on medicine which I found fascinating and was such an education for me – as not only is the family’s condition explored but leprosy too, a disease that plagued the country during the 1900s.

Each chapter opens with a stunning and meaningful illustration, I loved each as much as the words themselves. This book is definitely a marathon and not a sprint, take your time with it, savour it and take breaks if you need – the journey is worth it.

Thank you @abraham.verghese.official for this wonderful gift! X

P.s: it’s also an @oprahsbookclub pick

Review Online

Reviewer: @itsliterary_books (Instagram)

Rating: 4/5

I finished this big boy in just under a month and I can officially say that I totally get the hype.

The narrative is so interesting, the characters are so complex and personal, the landscape feels so familiar, and the plot is just 😗🤌🏼 (especially the twist at the end! Amazing.)

However, I will say that I think the book is too long. I’m not one to shy away from 700+ pages, but it feels as though brevity would have left a bigger impact on me.

Even with that in mind, I had a great time reading this. The intergenerational stories, the golden thread tying everyone together, and the motifs hiding behind every corner, made it a joy to pick up every night.

Review Online

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