The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese

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Abraham Verghese’s The Covenant of Water spans over three generations of a family living on South India’s Malabar Coast, where at least one person drowns in every generation. The novel follows the life of a young girl, Big Ammachi, who witnesses the changes in her society, both joyous and sorrowful, from the year 1900 to 1977. This literary masterpiece is a poignant reminder of the past struggles that paved the way for progress in medicine and human understanding.

Book review of The Covenant of Water

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese is a brilliant and stunning work of historical and literary fiction that captivates readers from beginning to end. With its fascinating design options of life in India during the 20th century, the book presents a poignant and intimate portrayal of the human experience, with unforgettable characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading.

One of the things that makes this book so compelling is its exceptional character development. Each person introduced is fully fleshed out, and the author imbues them with so much humanity that you can’t help but be moved by their struggles and triumphs. They suffer so much while making the best of many challenges, and the way their stories intertwine is masterful.

The plot is equally stunning, with all the disparate strands weaving together into a jaw-dropping moment toward the end of the book. It’s a commitment to read a novel of this length, but you will be fully absorbed while reading it. The depth and humanity that went into crafting this masterpiece is evident on every page.

As a physician-author, Verghese is a master of weaving medical jargon into the narrative without it becoming tedious for readers. The Southern tip of India region, its history and culture, are also vividly portrayed and add depth to the story. Although some readers might squabble about the length of the book, it is still worth every minute spent reading it.

For me, The Covenant of Water doesn’t edge out Cutting for Stone, but it still showcases the same craftsmanship that made Verghese’s earlier book a game changer for many readers. This family saga, close to the author’s own family, may not have the same power as Cutting for Stone, but it is still a remarkable work of art that deserves many awards.

Verdict Title.

In conclusion, The Covenant of Water is an unforgettable, haunting, and poignant book that will stay with you forever. Abraham Verghese is one of the finest writers of our time, and this book is a lifetime favorite for many readers. If you are in the mood for a work of art that combines reality and substance, then this book is a must-read.

Our Score


  • Character Development: The author does a brilliant job of developing each character, making them interesting and fully fleshed out.
  • Historical and Cultural Detail: The novel provides a fascinating insight into life in a specific part of India during the 20th century, which adds depth and richness to the story.
  • Compelling Plot: The plot is well-crafted and engaging, keeping the reader fully absorbed from start to finish.


  • Length: The book is over 700 pages long, which may make it daunting or tedious for some readers.
  • Medical Jargon: There is quite a bit of medical jargon in the book, which could become tedious for readers who are not familiar with the terminology.
  • Slow Pacing: Some readers may find the pacing of the book slow, as the author takes his time to fully develop the characters and their stories.
The Covenant of WaterPublisher ‏ : ‎ Grove Press (May 2, 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 736 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0802162177
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0802162175
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.95 pounds
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.25 x 2 x 9.25 inches

About Article Author

Rachel Parker

Rachel Parker is an inveterate romantic. An author of romance books and stories for the past 10 years, she combines her writing life with her love of literary criticism, waiting for her prince charming to appear at any moment.
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