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The English Patient Paperback – November 30, 1993
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A book that binds readers of great literature, The English Patient garnered the Booker Prize for author Ondaatje. The poet and novelist has also written In the Skin of a Lion, Coming Through Slaughter and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid; two collections of poems, The Cinnamon Peeler and There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do; and a memoir, Running in the Family. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Serious readers of literature should read this novel more than once, for its subtleties, imagery, and the force of its lyricism. More casual readers may find it tough reading, not because the language is inaccessible but because of the way Ondaatje backs into his story. Those who stick with the author's poetic turns will be well-rewarded by the end.
And yet, poetic justice prevails. On a slow winter morning at my coffee shop, I looked warily over at a copy of The English Patient that someone had left on the shelf months ago. In fact, I didn't even think that I was picking up "The English Patient", and instead looked to the merits of the book's fine author Michael Ondaatje. I thought of Anil's Ghost, which I enjoyed, and Coming through Slaughter, and thought it might do me good to start off my day with a glance at the inspired prose of a great writer. Later, I would read about Hana reading to the English patient: "When she begins a book she enters through stilted doorwas into large courtyards. Parma and Paris and India spread their carpets." In the first paragraph of this book, we enter into The Villa, following Hana into the room where the English patient lies. "She turns into the room which is another garden - this one made up of trees and bowers painted over its walls and ceiling.Read more ›
Unlike the movie, the book begins in war-torn Italy (1944) where we encounter Hana, a Canadian nurse and a horribly burned man known only as, "the English patient." Alone in an isolated, abandoned convent, Hana stays behind when her friends move on to care for the dying English patient. Hana is a rare individual and truly caring. She spends her days reading to the English patient from the volume of Herodotus that was found with him and, when his pain becomes too great, she injects him with morphine.
Hana and the English patient aren't alone long, however. A mysterious man named Caravaggio soon arrives and it becomes clear that he has an agenda all his own. Nevertheless, it is Caravaggio who succeeds with the English patient where others have failed. This trio is soon joined by a Sikh named Kip, a man who will play a role in Hana's life, just as she will play a role in his.
Eventually, of course, we learn all about the English patient, who really isn't English at all, but a Hungarian count named, Almasy. We learn where he's been and why and how he came to be so horribly burned. We learn about the great love of his life, a love that sadly, was doomed from the very start.
This is a book that is told on two levels and contains two love stories. One takes place in the past and the other takes place in the present. While Hana's story is told in the present tense, it is not as involving or as intense as is the love story involving Almasy that takes place in the past.Read more ›
Michael Ondaatje's stunning novel takes place as the Second World War is ending. The author creates four unforgettable characters and brings them together in an abandoned and damaged Italian villa as the war retreats around them. It is their lives and memories that "The English Patient" follows and explores.
Hana is a young Canadian nurse and her late father's friend, Caravaggio, is a professional thief and Allied spy who was brutally maimed during the war. Kip, a Sikh "sapper", lives on the edge of death in the fields of bomb disposal.
And the central force around which the action spins is the mysterious title character - the English Patient, the nameless, burnt victim who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminates the book.
They are all fascinated by this dying man, burnt beyond recognition and who refuses to unveil his name or country of origin. His story, set in the deserts of North Africa, unfolds through a series of flashbacks taking place in the abandoned villa. Through the rest of the novel, Hana, Caravaggio and Kip try to discover his true identity while he tells them stories of his past.
"The English Patient" is fabulous. It is all very poetic, the plot, the descriptions. It transforms your view of the world, turning it into a glorious, magical place that does not exist or does it? The author I read on the inside of the cover was first a poet and then became a novelist. And this novel is filled with page upon page of poetry, though it is written in novel form. "The English Patient" is perhaps the most beautiful novel I have ever read.
When I started to read the book I was a bit surprised that it was written in a third person.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love the poetry of this book, the vivid descriptions of time place person. A joy to read and re-read. Great!Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
I am having difficulty finishing it. It has not caught my lasting interest.Published 19 days ago by Suse
Classic reading at its best. Loved the story woven by this prolific author. A lesson in history and most importantly humanity.Published 21 days ago by Gail Terhaar
wow. so different from the movie. I usually prefer a book over the film, but not in this case.Published 1 month ago by Maria M
I must confess that I started reading this book with a little bit of reluctance: I had seen the movie, once, but I just remember that I thought it was a silly love story. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Marc L
This book, to me, was written like an inside joke where you are left out. There are entirely too many obscure references. The pace was too slow for me and ultimately I gave up.Published 3 months ago by Morris Branson
i read this book each year and never cease to be surprised by some new layer which i hadn't yet uncovered... brilliant... a life lessonPublished 3 months ago by bridget scoular