Not a book that would have normally piqued my interest but it was given to me as a gift; and we should never turn down gifts, especially when they are filled with words: 667 pages of them!
First, the negatives: In between the covers, there is a lot of blood, sweat, filth, and bodily excretions. There is also sadness, deceit, death, and struggle. 300 of the pages describe in-depth medical procedures. The other 300+ tell the miserable life stories of twin brothers who became doctors. There were a few chuckles and smiles in it but most of them stemmed from unpleasantness and misery, such as the rhyming and aphorisms used by a doctor in his operations: "When in doubt, cut it out," etc. This is supposed to be a journey of discovery and becoming but I honestly can't say that I found anything joyful within it.
The positive: There was however, just enough excellent writing in the book that kept me going to the finish. Example: (p. 589) "This is my life, I thought, as my taxi slogged through the heavy traffic and inched through the tunnel to Logan airport. I have excised the cancer from my past, cut it out; I have crossed the high plains, descended into the desert, traversed oceans, and planted my feet in new soil; I have been the apprentice, paid my dues, and have just become master of my ship. But when I look down, why do I see the ancient, tarred, mud-stained slippers that I buried at the start of the journey still stuck to my feet?" Verghese seems to have a natural gift for telling a story and it almost seems effortless, as if he could have gone on for another 600 pages if you'd distracted him with further questions or pressed him for details; you can hear his narrator's voice within it for the entire read.
So in summary, I thought the approach to the subject matter and the nihilistic world views exposed within it were depressing, typical I think of modern literature - 1 star. The story wasn't particularly exciting nor were the characters very interesting. Perhaps I could see how it would be attractive to medical professionals - 3 stars. The mastery of the art of writing was top rate - 5 stars. 3 stars total and I think I'll go back to some light reading after this.