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The English Patient- Catherine Hunter,
This review is from: The English Patient (Paperback)
The English Patient written in 1992 by Michael Ondaatje, a Canadian novelist and poet. The novel was well received by readers and gained him the prestigious 1993 Booker prize. As I delved into the novel I began to struggle reading past the first few pages, they started to seem very tedious and slightly dull. It was as though the novel didn't really have much substance to it and was going to be one of those reads that you regret wasting your time trying to realise it is as good as everyone keeps telling you it is.
As I pushed myself to continue reading on, the characters that started to appear I seemed to recognise them. I then realised to myself that I had in fact seen the film interpretation of the novel. After having this sudden realisation I was slightly irritated as I have always tried to make sure that I do not let a film interpretation of a novel affect the way I read the novel itself. With the book being such a hard read initially I found myself skim reading the next 20 or so pages. Then without realising I found myself hooked onto the story and after 3 hours had passed, I really found it difficult to put the book down and regretted ever doubting the book to begin with. It is a very rich novel and pleasingly written, about the lives of four individuals whose lives have been damaged by the war. The novel is based on 6 main characters Almásy, Hana, Kip, Caravaggio, Katharine Clifton and Geoffrey Clifton, set in Italy during the 1930's- 1950's. The novel is based to communicate to the readers how the lives of these characters were damaged by the Second World War and how it changed their lives completely. All of the main characters are powerful individuals in the sense that the stories of their lives have been conducted by tragedy, romance, struggles internally and the circumstances they had been faced with over the years. Personally, as a reader and lover of historic novels, especially those focusing on war; the characters presented in `The English Patient' are some of the most illustrious characters I have come across.
The action in the novel mainly takes place in an Italian villa just after the Second World War. A youthful Canadian woman, Hana, is helping to nurse back to life a seriously wounded patient who she believes to be an English explorer of the desert. The next character that is introduced in the novel was Caravaggio a Canadian friend of Hana's, who previously was a thief turned spy, who joins them in the uninhibited villa. The final character to join them in the abandoned villa is a Sikh Indian sapper called `Kip'. As the novel progresses and delves deeper, Hana and Kip begin to engage in a sexual bond with one another. For the English patient he begins to remember great detail, from his life before his accident, in which the English patient gradually unravels the secret of his identity and past are intriguing, enlightening, and mesmerising.
After finishing the novel I found myself looking through bookshelves to find others like it, I just wanted to feed my imagination with stories like this one as it gave me a great deal of satisfaction as a reader.
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Initial post: 17 Dec 2010 08:26:25 GMT
In my opinion, Ondaatje's 'In the Skin of a Lion' is even more poetic and heart-rending than The English Patient. ITSOAL can be read as a kind of prequel, as it is set pre-war, with Caravaggio and Hana both making appearances. It's more dream-like and more a collection of vignettes that occasionally collide, but it is truly a work that has resonanted with me for years. Personally, for me, The English Patient will always be about the movie, not the book.
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