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The English Patient Paperback – Aug 27 1993
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Haunting and harrowing, as beautiful as it is disturbing, The English Patient tells the story of the entanglement of four damaged lives in an Italian monastery as World War II ends. The exhausted nurse, Hana; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burn victim who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning. In lyrical prose informed by a poetic consciousness, Michael Ondaatje weaves these characters together, pulls them tight, then unravels the threads with unsettling acumen.
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 the Hardcover edition.
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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The prose is evocative, like Almasy's comment on Kipling: to be read slowly and then reread. Images and scenes slowly take shape like a jigsaw puzzle. It is not until the final few pages that we finally learn what compels Hana to tend so devotedly to the mortally-burned English Patient, it is not until the final pages that Kip reviews his dedication to the British war cause. The characters' evolutions come slowly and naturally as Almasy's stories of the desert catalyze the entire book.
The movie is not this book. Read the book - it's brilliant.
Not a quick or easy read, The English Patient one of those books written in language so distilled, so concentrated, that one phrase can be explicated for pages. Its images, many of which I do not yet understand and many of which I'm sure I missed this time through, slip in and out of your consciousness long after you've finished the novel. The effect is that of someone tugging gently on your sleeve and saying "hey, pay attention -- this is important, this is what meaning is made of."
The story is that of 4 characters who have come to inhabit a bombed-out, ruined and abandoned Italian villa towards the end of world war 2. With supreme skill as a storyteller, Ondaatje dips us into their pasts, so that we are made aware of their stories snapshot by snapshot; this is particularly true of the mysterious nameless faceless 'English patient', a severe burn victim with a deep, secretive history.
There is such power in this novel I'd like to bottle its spirit, its poetry and its beauty, and carry it with me. This book is IMPORTANT to me. I cannot say any more than that.
I know years from now, when these ninth graders have their own kids, and find love or not; when some of them slip into affairs and disappointments, and even joy, they will remember Katherine and Almasy- and the emptiness of the desert. What else is literature for?
In the middle of our national crisis, Katherine's words seem to haunt all of us with their portent- "We're the real countries, not the boundaries drawn on maps, or the names of powerful men." Try beating that. There is nothing left to say, really. Is there?
I have began and put down this book so frequently it is already dog-eared from my constant indecision. I think I feared that perhaps I would be disapppointed.
I adore both'In the Skin of a Lion' and 'Anil's Ghost' (to an extent) and I thought the film was amazingly beautiful. I must admit, I was slightly disappointed, but certainly, I could never regret finally reading the piece. There is a beauty captured many books, and no author captures the beauty of words and creates a more stunning and remembered image than Ondaatje.
I hate history books. Certainly, I see the importance of recording history, but I am far from a budding historian. This book has a substantial portion devoted to the events surrounding the second world war. I also hate sand and probably would despise deserts should I one day find the need to venture into one. This book has a substantial portion devoted to the desert. So we began on bad terms.
But there is more to this novel than sand and history; there is striking romanticism on several levels, wonderfully crafted descriptions and stunningly vivid characters. There is immense heartbreak and a fine weave of several sub stories. It is deep rich and vivid and worth reading. Particularly if you like sand, history and explosives. (Thankfully he hit a note with me there.)
'In the Skin of a lion' seems that tiny bit better, but I would have no hestitations in reccommending either, or any, of Ondaatje's work.
Most recent customer reviews
Pharaohs of the Sky
I truly believe no better exists on this planet that Michael Ondaatje. A poet by trade, his prose is just as perfectly composed. Read more
I love kindle books. They make my reading in my second language so easily. Whenever I come cross a new word, I press on it and a dictionary starts to show the explanation. Read morePublished 9 months ago by ontheroad
Very quick and book is preserved well,
perfect at this price, and my friend seemed very satisfied with this gift
Twenty-year-old Hana is living in an isolated villa outside Tuscany. It's 1945 and the Germans have retreated, leaving mines and burned-out buildings behind. Read morePublished on June 30 2012 by Debra Purdy Kong
I read this in the early 90s because it was required in a university class. I'm REALLY thankful that my professor introduced me to this story. Read morePublished on Dec 30 2011 by David Sabine
I come late to reading award-winning author, Michael Ondaatje, and decided to discover his story-telling ability through a familiar tale, that of the award-winning film made from... Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2011 by Lorina Stephens
I just finished this book and I must say you can clearly see the author's poetical style in his prose. Read morePublished on Oct. 7 2009 by rkcb
Don't miss this - and don't miss the movie, either.
The English Patient is a completely enthralling novel of war, honor, romance, and courage. Read more
"The English Patient" is, without a doubt, one of my very favorite books. It is lush, beautiful and gorgeous. Read morePublished on April 12 2002