13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The English Patient,
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This review is from: The English Patient (Paperback)
Unfortunately I saw the film before I read the book, which I normally try to avoid - Though it was years ago I saw it, I still had Ralph Fiennes and Juliet Binoche in my minds eye. To my surprise, however, the film did not keep faithfully to the book, so I was still able to enjoy new things - For example, Count Almasy's romance with Katharine almost takes a back seat to Hana's life in the Italian villa and the story of Kip, the Sikh sapper. Caravaggio is not the menacing stranger we see in the film, but more of a tortured father figure trying to look after Hana as she slowly starts to recover from the war.
The book it written in Ondaatje's signature style - poetic and atmospheric, slow and emotional. It is powerful and beautiful at the same time, an effect the lingers long after you close the book. The draw-back for me is that sometimes the emotional prose gets a little too flaky and hazy, a bit too dreamy and wandering. I sometimes even get the feeling he is trying too hard to achieve this intimate, rhythmic effect that the result is a little clumsy and contrived.
But without a doubt, this is a moving book about love, the disaster of war and the process of picking up the pieces afterwards. There are beautiful descriptions of the North African deserts and a small cast of vivid and believable characters which makes this book well worth the read.