©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.
“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.
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.
This would easily have been 5-star except for the soulless lack of spacing between chapters. Jarring and upsetting the beautiful flow of the prose. The author and the narrator worked so hard to produce this jewel only to be let down by the techs. Can you fix this for others?
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...
It was a decent read, but I found myself getting distracted too often. The characters are not delved into in great enough detail in my opinion and the story is not terribly engaging. The emotional state of the characters is very real however and I find the psychological state of most of the characters to be quite interesting. I would recommend only if you like long drawn out dramas.
This book isn't a good book for audio format, but still a powerfully bittersweet novel.
The narrator's impersonation of an Indian accent was awful and unnecessary.
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