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The English Patient Paperback – November 30, 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
Canadian author Ondaatje offers a poetic novel set in a desolate Italian villa in the final days of WWII--a one-week PW bestseller--and an evocative account of a visit with his family in Sri Lanka.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"A rare and spellbinding web of dreams." —Time
"Sensuous, mysterious, rhapsodic, it transports the reader to another world . . . . Ondaatje's most probing examination yet of the nature of identity." —San Francisco Chronicle
"Mr. Ondaatje [is] one of North America's finest novelists . . . . The spell of his haunted villa remains with us, inviting us to reread passages for the pure pleasure of being there." —Wall Street Journal
Top customer reviews
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But if the book is difficult to read and understand, it is beautifully written. The language is lyrical. At the end of WWII, a young woman, a nurse, winds up living with three men in a bombed out wreck of an Italian Villa. One is The English Patient, hideously burned in a plane crash in Libya, and supposed to be dying. The other three are also victims of the war, although their wounds might be more difficult to see. The interactions of these four damaged survivors are woven into a tapestry as the novel unfolds, beautiful but, at the end, still difficult to comprehend.
The book is presented in three story-lines, independent and intersecting at the same time. That much character development would not have made a good movie.
The story lines of Hana, Kip and Caravaggio are as unique and interesting as that of the English patient whose story brings them all together and intersect. While the Drama of each of their lives could be a story in itself and the specificity of the English patient, strangely, is not even needed to for they story arch...it could have been other things...but the saga of the English patient and the mystery of his life and identity interweaves and drives their more mundane life struggles. It's story, story, story and the English patient's narrative is a powerful driver.
Missing or short-changed in the movie are the deeper story of Hana dealing with the trauma of her father's death, Kip's story of trying to navigate the fallout of colonialism, assimilation, identity and the east-west divide, and Caravaggio's (who's character, along with Hana first appear in a previous book " "In the Skin of a Lion"-they really did grow up together in Canada) who relationship with Hana is infused with tenderness but is confusing to Hana because of unresolved family relationships she is still sorting out...and sought out Hana in Italy (not the English patient-but there are connections there they turn up).
Don't skip the book...it is a good read with characters of depth that you don't often encounter.
Once you've been to Ondaatje's Africa and the secluded Italian villa, you will never be the same again. His character studies of how four damaged souls converge and meld seamlessly with a narrative of love and loss.
A sample passage from the book “"We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography- to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps."”
Enjoy this Booker Prize-winning novel and follow it up with the equally enthralling Academy Award-winning movie of the same name.
Most recent customer reviews
Who are those people who gives 4 and even 3 stars to this book?!Read more