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This book is a matter of taste. I really liked it's moodiness and vague characters.
When I was reading this Canadian classic, it seemed everyone I encountered wanted to talk about the book. They all had glowing things to say, and I have to agree, I loved this story. The story centers around three men and a woman living in a crumbling Italian villa at the end of the Second World War – a Canadian nurse, a Sikh bomb disposal expert, a Canadian thief-turned-spy, and a heavily burned man who is known only as “the English patient”. Part of the novel is centered around this mystery of the English patient’s identity, but also recounts the patient’s tumultuous love affair in the North African desert in the 1930s. Ondaatje’s writing is beautiful and poetic, and now I’m really looking forward to reading his newest novel, The Cat’s Table! (submitted by AA)
Golden Man Booker!
The English Patient is a powerfully evocative and mesmerizing portrait of the personal toll of war. The haunting storylines take place during the latter days of the Second World War in a small Italian town where three war-wearied individuals converge at a villa. Each of them has varying interest in a fourth character, an utterly unrecognizable Englishman suffering from burns over his entire body. This “English patient” may or may not be who he claims to be, or he may be more than he wants to reveal. Linking characters over time and place, Ondaatje is masterful at unraveling the wounded depth of their pasts. He brings beauty to their trials and finds something lovely out of the horrors and psychological scars of their experiences. The novel explores the obsession of love, the passion of longing, the secrets of identity, and the sources of sadness, insanity, and healing. Ondaatje is that rare writer who can balance the dichotomy of love and hate, kindness and betrayal, and compassion and contempt. The aching lushness of his language and the sureness of his words attain a superior level of craftsmanship. Having read this novel several times, I continue to discover new and enlightening insights each time. Its impact does not diminish.
Guys, this is no Harlequin, or other production-line Romance Novel.
It is an eloquent telling of a story's story's story.
It's scope is merely alluded to in the opening chapters. As the character's roles and separate storylines begin to coalesce, it takes-on an adventurous, grand breadth in a surprisingly unique manner, while it's historical setting realistically influences the plot.
If you're a passionate Romantic like me, be warned:
Upon completion of the book, it took me awhile....
to pick-up all the pieces of my thoroughly broken Heart.
But THAT.....(sniff)....is good storytelling!
I am so glad I finally read the book even though I didn't like the movie, which trivializes everything except the sick "romance" between Almasay and Katherine.
I am a big fan of Mr. Ondaatje's writing. If you haven't read " n the Skin of a Lion" (my personal favorite) you owe to yourself to have of pleasure of reading such a touching and romantic novel
Note to Library Staff: Under the image of the book's cover there is a description that the story takes place "in a deserted Indian villa."
It takes place in an Italian villa.
Ugh. Not my cup of tea. Boring, confusing, pretentious... It gets a 1.5 instead of 1 because there were glimpses here and there where I understood what was going on and it wasn't terrible, but overall this book felt like it was 1,000 pages and I was just trudging through the haze of nonsensical sentences.
This is the book that made me fall in love with CanLit. So romantic and beautiful, in so many ways. Read it 3 times. Saw the movie many years later, it does do the book justice (the soundtrack CD is great), worth renting assuming you have read the book first, of course. As a rule, I don't like too much description, but this book is exceptional, you will be in the desert, in post WW2 Europe. The characters are sharply defined and become so real as you read.
This is a favourite of mine. I love all of his books, but I like this one for it's imagery and characters.
Wonderfully poetic and thoughtful, The English Patient is a story of love and friendship in an Italian villa during WWII. Michael Ondaatje examines loyalty, lust, and cultural differences while drawing the reader into a beautifully complex novel.
Ondaatje sets the stage: It is at the end of WWII, and a badly burned airman is lying in an Italian villa which has been converted to a hospital. A Canadian nurse cares for him, and an old friend of her father arrives, also a sapper. The author takes the reader back into each of their lives in almost a dreamlike manner. It's good to just relax and let his artistry take us back and forth between towns and decades.
One of my favourite books! The images created by Ondaatje's words are powerful and poetic... at times I could almost hear and smell the scenes I was reading about.
I tend to read e-books or library books, and am purging the number of books on my shelves, but my ratty old dog-eared copy of The English Patient, signed by Michael Ondaatje when he came to town for a reading, has pride of place and isn't going anywhere.
Ondaatje's strikingly poetic style can create beautiful images but ultimately distanced me from this novel's already thin story. In particular, I was often perplexed by Ondaatje's bizarre metaphors: "He knew he was now a king...it was strange to him. As if he had been handed a large suit of clothes that he could roll around in and whose sleeves would drag behind him." Still, if you value poetic lyricism more than story, you might love this book.
One of the best books I've ever read. The plot is unpredictable and the writing style is beautiful.
one of my favorite books. and, remarkably, one of the few that i think has been really successfully adopted for the screen http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116209/
A story that endures. Atmospheric. Got a bad rap as flavour of the month when the movie came out. New things to learn from it every time you read it.