©1992 Michael Ondaatje; (P)2007 Books on Tape
"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)
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.
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.
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.
“Literature becomes the living memory of a nation.”
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.
Sorry, I haven't seen print version.
I enjoyed the building of the characters.
Excellent. Perfect for the story
The English Patient...there has to be more to his story.
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.
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.
strange Canadian accents...
I loved the movie and was very eager to hear all the parts usually omitted by hearing the book. The narration was monotone but I can deal with that. What I could not stomach was the rambling stream of consciousness that Michael Ondaatje indulged in when speaking through the English patient's morphine-induced state. Pages and pages and pages of rambling and he finally lost me. I didn't care even to find the love affair that, by the way, is nearly impossible to decipher from the metaphors. If you're looking for the movie you love, you've come to the wrong place.
Say something about yourself!
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.
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.
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