#bookreview The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje – edition published by Picador 1993

Winner of the Man Booker prize 1992 and the Golden Man Booker prize 2018.



‘Magnificent’ Sunday Times

‘The best piece of fiction I’ve read in years’ Independent on Sunday

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.

The only clue Hana has to unlocking his past is the one thing he clung on to through the fire – a copy of The Histories by Herodotus, covered with hand-written notes detailing a tragic love affair.

My reading experience:

We begin at the Villa San Girolamo … Hana and The English Patient, a man who does not know who he is.

As a reader I am wondering how I have never read this book before – so beautifully eloquent and delicate, like petals from a flower on the cusp of life. I’m astounded at its simple yet intricate tale and how easy it is to build the characters in my mind, give them voices and more than that, feelings.

Hana is the nurse whom this tale revolves around, and yet getting to know her does not come quickly. We meet the patient and his tale of being rescued, Caravaggio and how he was tortured, and the Sikh sapper Kip (Kirpal Singh). These are our players today, but before our patient fell burning from the sky there were others … Katherine.

This book is poetry. It is so elegantly sensual, so beautiful in its characters, so atmospheric. The chapter “Katharine” will linger in my mind forever, such is it’s quality and breathtaking realism.

The lovers are disassembled as am I, the reader.


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