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The English Patient | [Michael Ondaatje]

The English Patient

With ravishing beauty and unsettling intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II. Hana, the exhausted nurse; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burned man who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminates this audiobook like flashes of heat lightening.
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Publisher's Summary

With ravishing beauty and unsettling intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II. Hana, the exhausted nurse; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burned man who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminates this audiobook like flashes of heat lightening.

©1992 Michael Ondaatje; (P)2007 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

"The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje wears the triple crown: it is profound, beautiful and heart-quickening." (Toni Morrison)
"There are books that change the shape of literature. The English Patient is such a book." (Books in Canada)
"A magic carpet ride of a novel that soars across worlds and times....A rare and spellbinding net of dreams." (Time)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (187 )
5 star
 (65)
4 star
 (50)
3 star
 (49)
2 star
 (12)
1 star
 (11)
Overall
3.9 (104 )
5 star
 (44)
4 star
 (23)
3 star
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2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (5)
Story
4.1 (102 )
5 star
 (45)
4 star
 (31)
3 star
 (18)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (4)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Leslie A. Foote Monterey CA 07-08-07
    Leslie A. Foote Monterey CA 07-08-07 Member Since 2006

    hospice doc

    HELPFUL VOTES
    34
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    "4 lives in the aftermath of WWII"

    This is a wonderfully written book that brings together the lives of 4 people affected differently by the war. It is touching and profound as well as insightful. For those that saw the movie....it is completely different in approach. Whereas the movie focused on the plots of individual lives, the book examines their "interior" world. Highly recommended.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Selah, WA, USA 11-20-09
    Sam Selah, WA, USA 11-20-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    2
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    "Both Book and Narrator excellent"

    I wasn't sure about the book due to earlier reviews, but I want to assure you that the narrator is excellent. I also happen to like the book better than the movie made of it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Halifax, NS, Canada 01-03-11
    David Halifax, NS, Canada 01-03-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    254
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    55
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    "Excellent, although accent questionable"

    An excellent reading of an excellent novel. No, it's not like the film (which I also love); it's a giant prose poem, in which each word is beautifully chosen, and it's a meditation rather than a straightforward plot. Past and present melt in and out, and the war is seen from multiple angles.

    The reader is excellent, and gives the Patient a hawk-like arrogance that is quite memorable. My only criticism is that the reader uses an English accent. The book is written by a Canadian, and most of the story is told from the perspective of Canadian characters. Although the reader attempts a Canadian accent during the dialogue sequences, the book is mostly narration, and the use of an English accent for that seemed jarring.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary WEST LAKE HILLS, TX, United States 11-07-12
    Mary WEST LAKE HILLS, TX, United States 11-07-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    Story
    "A wonderful well-crafted story"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The English Patient to be better than the print version?

    Sorry, I haven't seen print version.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The English Patient?

    I enjoyed the building of the characters.


    What about Christopher Cazenove’s performance did you like?

    Excellent. Perfect for the story


    If you could take any character from The English Patient out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    The English Patient...there has to be more to his story.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Isabella R 04-09-12
    Isabella R 04-09-12

    “Literature becomes the living memory of a nation.”

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    Story
    "A Book That Will Haunt You Long After You Read It"

    Brings to full light and fruition all the weighty themes, characters, conflicts and insights that the move could only that the movie could only brushed against lightly. Though very different from the film, I think the screenplay was authentic as it could be with its limitations.

    To the ear, Ondaatje's prose flow more like a Bach three part invention with the interweaving of the characters stories in and out, flowing smoothly against an almost cryptic "timeline". But the experiences of love, hate, war, desire and destiny are eternal/universal so story can be picked up or dropped anywhere, and always resonate with the reader.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly 08-19-11
    Kelly 08-19-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    69
    4
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    "Very different from the film..."

    but, in a good way. The prose is commendable and the narrator kept me engaged. So if you are repelled from this book for having seen the film already, don't be.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wendybird Omaha 04-12-12
    wendybird Omaha 04-12-12 Member Since 2005

    Wendy

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    82
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    Story
    "Lots of pretty words, but nothing happens"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I don't regret spending time listening to this book--I'm working my way through the "1001 Books to Read Before you Die" list--although audiobook may not be the best medium for what is a very confusing, convoluted story. The narrator barely pauses between sections where, as a reader, you would see blank space between paragraphs denoting some sort of slip in time and space. I picked up a paperback copy of the book so I could turn back and reread portions that had left me confused, but for the most part I hadn't missed much--and was still confused.

    Also, while I crave complex characters and a rip-roaring story, nothing really happens in the story! Even what should be exciting sequences are narrated exposition-style by one of the characters (and why do they all speak in flowery poetic language just like the writer himself?). With the exception of the Indian sapper Kip, the characters left me cold. The two women in the story, Hana and Katherine, may as well be the same person, for all the character distinction they show. They struck me as just objects for the men to focus on, and the overall feel was of a masculine melodrama romance novel... By the end, I felt like this should have been Kip's story, not the English patient's, not Hana's, but it was too late and I just couldn't bring myself to care.

    Too bad, as there are some lovely "frozen-moment" moments of disaster (a motorcycle suspended in thin air, a plane crash), but the characters are not fleshed out or interesting enough to drive what should be a character-driven story.


    What three words best describe Christopher Cazenove???s performance?

    strange Canadian accents...


    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Sidney, NE, United States 08-07-09
    Andrew Sidney, NE, United States 08-07-09 Member Since 2007

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "Not as good as the movie."

    I was interested in this book, partially because the movie was tremendous (Best Picture), and generally books are even better than movies adapted from books, but this was the opposite. The movie was far and away better. This book was tedious,long, drawn out, and boring. I was very disppointed.

    3 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert JACKSONVILLE, FL, United States 01-21-10
    Robert JACKSONVILLE, FL, United States 01-21-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
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    "Different Focus than the Film"

    If you go into this book thinking it will roughly follow the events of the movie you may be surprised. The story does have enjoyable parts but it is written in such a way that I find fairly hard to listen to for long periods of time. As an example, here is a sentence from the book, "She pours calamine in strips across his chest where he is less burned, where she can touch him." If you can get past this you may enjoy the book.

    3 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melanie Cobbs Creek, VA, United States 02-07-12
    Melanie Cobbs Creek, VA, United States 02-07-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "confusing"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No


    Would you ever listen to anything by Michael Ondaatje again?

    No


    Which character – as performed by Christopher Cazenove – was your favorite?

    the Nurse


    Do you think The English Patient needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. It would just make it more confusing.


    Any additional comments?

    at the end, I still wasn't sure what happened.

    0 of 5 people found this review helpful
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