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The English Patient Paperback – Aug 27 1993

4.1 out of 5 stars 235 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada; 1 edition (Aug. 27 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039428013X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394280134
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 235 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ondaatje is a superb writer. The English Patient is a brilliant book. Ondaatje's genius is to reveal characters as people are revealed in life - not in linear chronological narratives, but in glimpes, flashes of lightning, disconnected anecdotes. Sometimes contradictory, always fascinating. The book takes the shape of these disparate images and recollections slowly coalescing to form four protagonists: Hana the Canadian nurse, Almasy the English Patient, Caravaggio the thief, and Kip the Sikh deminer. They are isolated from the world in a postwar Italian villa, each with subtle motives defined by Ondaatje's profound attention to detail.
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.
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By A Customer on June 2 2002
Format: Hardcover
A beautifully written multi-layered story of love, loss, war, and sadness. Whether writing about the simple pleasures in life or the sorrow circumstances bring upon us Ondaatje does so with a prose of simple beauty that not many can. Since you have probably seen the wonderful film (unless you live in a cave) I won't detail the story. This is by far the best of this author's work. Something will seem unfinished at the end of this book and perhaps that is the point. War creates boundaries and disrupts the possibilities of life. Ondaatje's prose is told as though an eloquent angel were telling us the events taking place in that war torn Villa in Italy where Hana cares for "The English Patient". This is the unusual case where the film IS as good as the book and only enhances your enjoyment of reading it, allowing you to picture the people and the places of this quietly heartbreaking novel. In the end, Hana's heart will keep returning to that moment in time, unable to move on from what might have been were it not for war. This is a beautiful book and an absolute Must Read........
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Format: Paperback
This, as my teacher told us, is a novel one must reread every five years or so.
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.
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By A Customer on Oct. 24 2001
Format: Paperback
I am reading this incredibly lyrical and emotionally complex novel with my high school students. Most of it, admittedly, is above their heads. But they do recognize its beauty, it's easy grace-like we do in really good poetry or in great songs, or like in falling in love. The English Patient is beautiful in most imaginable ways, and has become like a song we sing together in class everyday. Ondaatje says, "a novel is like a mirror walking down the road." He slips into lines like these as if they were nothing at all, but they will leave you speechless with their unadorned truth and honesty.
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?
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Format: Paperback
I love Ondaatje's work, but there is none better than 'In the skin of a lion', there is no book more deserving of any award, including this one.
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.
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