The Booker Prize-winning novel, now a critically acclaimed major motion picture, starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe and Kristin Scott Thomas. With ravishing beauty and unsettling intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II. Hana, the exhausted nurse; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burned man who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminates this book like flashes of heat lightening.
Original publication date
While his prose was beautiful and flowery in one respect, after a while it became overdone and hard to understand. This kind of writing is better suited to his poetry but not to a novel.
The author's overuse of simple
I wanted to keep reading, I wanted to know what happened, and I wanted to finish the book, but just couldn't.
The above is what I had written at the point when I had put the book down, I thought for good. That was at about page 100.
However, I had read enough of this story that it kind of stuck with me and I wanted to know more. So I kept reading. In my opinion, it didn't get any better as I got farther into it.
The writing was very confusing, the story skipped around too much, the prose was overdone, and the end, I was left with a big "huh?" as my ultimate response to this book.
It was too bad, because I had high expectations for this book and I couldn't wait to read it based on the back-cover description.
The same might be said of the characters in The English Patient. For this is a beautiful, artfully crafted novel about the mapping of identity
Also has to be said that Ondaatje’s prose is as rhythmically mesmerising and inspired as Virginia Woolf or Don Delillo at their best.
I don't remember the last time I just couldn't be bothered to finish a book. Nothing happens in this book - or, at least, in the first half.
I believe I'm supposed to be enjoying the beautiful writing, but it seems like flowery windbaggery to me. I enjoy
I have been captivated by the film for years. I can now say I have been captivated by
Ondaatje's research and presentation of the final days of the Italian Campaign of WWII is impeccable and beautifully presented. There is very much a sense of suspension in the story, of lives on hold, of the last breath before the long exhale of release. There is also a remarkable sense of ambiguity in the story, of the search for meaning when in fact there is none. There is only survival and moments of beauty in between.
This is a deceptively powerful novel, deceptively powerfully written.
This is not linear story-telling, nor is it a book that should be read quickly. Rather, the novel shifts perspectives and time frames over a 15 year period to reveal its secrets in a gradual, languorous manner. Although other reviewers have criticized it as disjointed and confusing, I found the author’s writing style to be pitch-perfect; the characters have all suffered profound losses and traumas and their memories come to them when and how their cathartic healing processes allow. Indeed, Ondaatje has created an atmospheric, fully imagined world, artfully blending historical fact with his fiction.
I write this review after reading “The English Patient” for a second time, about 20 years after its publication. Of course, there is always a danger when you re-read a book you loved at an earlier stage of your life; the words on the page may not change, but the reader certainly does. In this case, though, I found even more to admire about the novel. Perhaps because I already knew the story this time—I have seen the movie now as well—it was easier for me to appreciate the subtle and graceful way that the author developed the main themes of enduring love, returning to life after tragedy, and the healing power of memory. I also saw that this was a poignant, bittersweet coming-of-age story for two of the characters, something I missed altogether before.
Overall, I found this to be an extraordinary novel, full of passages and imagery that were simply beautiful, sometimes heart-achingly so. The book swept me away to another time and place when I read it the first time and it did the same thing again two decades later. It so richly deserves all of the acclaim it has received over the years.
Overall, a beautiful, haunting story set at the tail end of World War II.
This book is not chick lit or romance. It's about people coming together in a time of war (a nurse, a
The aspects I found most interesting were the parts dealing with African exploration and sapping (dismantling bombs and mines). In fact, this book led me to want to read more about World War II.
But the highlight is Ondaatje's writing. I have never encountered such a fantastic example of poetic prose. And the author has an uncanny ability to describe small moments that most of us don't even notice we're noticing (I swear, it makes sense).
So, to anyone who would be put off this book on account of preconceived notions (thank you again, Hollywood), just give it a chance. I doubt you'll be disappointed.
Part of the story is romantic, and the other part is more like a war story; it takes place in
I watched the movie nine years ago. I was hugely pregnant, curled up on my sofa and enraptured by this Oscar-winning film of war, love and sacrifice.
Don’t get me wrong; the book was not bad. Parts of it were artistic and introspective with compelling characters. Hana was sad but still had a lust for life; Kip was lost but ready to move on; Caravaggio finally found a purpose for this conniving ways. But the English Patient and his beloved Katharine remained a secret to me. I could never wrap my arms around their relationship. It seemed destructive and loveless, but so little was written about it that I could never tell. To me, this gap was too large to ignore.
Where Michael Ondaatje blossomed with The English Patient was illustrating the destructiveness of war on the soldiers, nurses, civilians and cities involved. War is hell on everyone, and this story drove this point home very well.
If you are a fan of Booker winners, than The English Patient might be one for you; however, I believe the movie is a better way to witness this story. The book, in effect, fell short for me.
Whatever the reason, I found this book more of a struggle than I expected (hence the perhaps overly low rating.) Nonetheless, the beauty of Ondaatje's prose holds throughout, and his ability to evoke images of exotic times and places is used to full force in this book. I recommend first-time Ondaatje readers start elsewhere, and work their way back to this one.
I had to read this for a class. it deals with heavy subject matter including PTSD and war. I found myself really struggling
Unfortunately for me, the road that is The English Patient did not hold my attention. I have an irritating habit in that I can find any number of insignificant things to do when I am disinterested in what I am supposed to be doing; this was my
The novel certainly has the ingredients for a spellbinding story: devastation of war, the burdensome politics of nations, desert intrigue, and passionate love. It brings together at the end of WWII four disparate characters who are living in an abandoned Italian villa: an unidentified man, burnt beyond recognition; Hana, a young Canadian nurse; Caravaggio, a thief turned spy; and Kip, a Sikh bomb disposal technician. Framed within this reality are the memories of the “English patient” who recalls elaborate desert expeditions and an illicit love affair with the wife of a colleague. His passion for the desert is mesmerizing:
“The desert could not be claimed or owned – it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names long before Canterbury existed, long before battles and treaties quilted Europe and the East. Its caravans, those strange rambling feasts and cultures, left nothing behind, not an ember. All of us, even those with European homes and children in the distance, wished to remove the clothing of our countries.” (138)
Still, The English Patient simply did not flow for me. I’d pick up a strand in one of its many layers, excited to read on, only to lose the strand again in the next moment. I enjoy a layered and complex story; but this one distracted me so often that I finally lost interest.
"The English Patient" - the novel, that is - goes even further than the film did over the course of nearly three hours of running time. The biggest benefit to all of this is the increased attention paid to our friendly-neighbourhood Indian bomb-defuser. His backstory is fleshed-out, making him a rather compelling character.
The story itself is the one that people the world over fell in love with when it was presented to them on celluloid. I found the imagery every bit as strong in the book, and I am immensely pleased to have taken the time to read it.
My only disappointment? I couldn't help hoping for more for Hana and Kip.