The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. We hope that they will give you a number of interesting angles from which to consider this mesmerizing work of fiction, a novel that is simultaneously mysterious, poetic, and romantic.
kmitchel, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by kmitchel)
This book sat on my shelf for years. I'm not sure what I expected, having ambivalent feelings about the movie. What I found was a story that bravely explored the grey lines of morals and loyalty. Michael Ondaatje is not afraid to create characters searching for redemption in flawed and impossible ways. In another author's hands, the book would be merely depressing. In Ondaatje's, the result is a story of haunting beauty.
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bookluver, December 29, 2007 (view all comments by bookluver)
Never having lived in a warzone, "The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje gave me a greater understanding of the horrors of war. Three men and one woman remain living in a villa in the Tuscan hills.
The villa has been destroyed by bombs during WWII. The lives of these four people, Hana, Kip, Caravaggio and the English patient are also damaged deeply.
The poetic way in which Michael Ondaatje writes is spectacular. Somehow the poetic prose took me under the skin of the characters. I began to see and feel what the people felt as if I were there walking with Kip to find undiscovered mines, with Caravaggio as he shared conversations and morphine with the English patient, listening to Hana read "Kim" by Kipling to the burnt and unrecognizable English patient and falling down a well of memories with the English patient. Herodotus always in his line of vision.
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Vintage Books USA -
by Richard Ford,
"An exotic, consuming, and richly inspired novel of passion. In its elegance and its satisfactions it resembles no book I know."
by Eileen Battersby, Irish Times,
"No novel published this year in Britain, or anywhere else, matches The English Patient for either lyricism, narrative impact or quality on any level... This is one of the few truly great post-war novels"
"The best piece of fiction in English I've read in several years." Edmund White
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