The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje

The final curtain is closing on the Second World War and in an abandoned Italian village Hana, a nurse, tends to her sole remaining patient. Rescued from a burning plane, the anonymous Englishman is damaged beyond recognition and haunted by painful memories. 

This Booker winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives: Hana, the exhausted nurse; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burned man who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning.

A profound and captivating novel.

It is no surprise to me that The English Patient was recently honoured at the Man Booker 50 year celebration with the Golden Booker Prize.

This is no straightforward plot.

The story brims with sensuality and meanders through beautifully written words, ultimately searching for the identity of all involved – not just the mysterious patient in the bed upstairs.

Each of the four main characters has their own pain and journey to share, unique and meaningful stories in their own right. Featuring Italy, England, Egypt, Canada, India.. The novel is far richer than the film adaptation.

Enchanting – must read!

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.” 

“She entered the story knowing she would emerge from it feeling she had been immersed in the lives of others, in plots that stretched back twenty years, her body full of sentences and moments, as if awaking from sleep with a heaviness caused by unremembered dreams.” 

“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.” 


The English Patient

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

PUBLISHED: 1992

GENRE: Literary

PAGES: 320

AWARDS: The Golden Man Booker Prize 2018, Man Booker 1992 Winner

WHAT’S NEXT: Referenced throughout as the patient’s commonplace book, I’m now interested to read The Histories by Herodotus. And I want to start my own commonplace book of course.

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