Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 book 234

Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient
My brain was kind of overloaded on Harry Potter, so I took a break to read something more on the literary side--I'd actually never read this before (nor seen the movie). Anyway, it's about Hana, a Canadian nurse in Italy in 1945, living in a villa and caring for a badly burned patient whose identity is unknown (but is presumably English, as the title indicates). Soon they're joined by a friend of her father's and a young Sikh bomb disposal expert, and they basically all hang out waiting for the war to end while the English Patient talks about his past in the Egyptian desert and his affair with a married woman. The writing is beautiful, though too oblique at times (maybe b/c the titular character is on morphine? The flashbacks to the Sikh's life are much clearer).  I think parts of this book are supposed to be tragic, but I didn't feel enough for the characters and the writing didn't always draw me in. Great atmosphere though. B/B+.

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