Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
It's been a week since I've finished this novel, but I still haven't figured out what I want to say about it. It's certainly a story that stays in one's mind a long time.
Four different people of different ages and nationalities converge under one roof somewhere in Italy as World War II is ending. Hana the exhausted nurse, Caravaggio the thief, Kip the Indian sapper, and the burn victim everyone refers to as "the English patient" become a part of each other's everyday lives and form an unusual but close social set for a precious sliver of time. During these months, the reader is led through a series of flashbacks that illuminate each of their intriguing pasts.
There are so many good and interesting stories created with this time period as the backdrop, but I feel that this one is unique in its ending, specifically the end of the four-way friendship.
The English Patient is written beautifully and sparingly; Michael Ondaatje tells us just enough facts. Nothing is overwritten or revisited, and I found myself hanging on every word.
Actually, I'd like to see the movie again!