Molly Westerman's Reviews > The English Patient

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
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's review
Jun 26, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorite-fiction, fiction
Recommended for: people who hated (or loved) the film version; lovers of beautiful language
Read from June 29 to July 01, 2010

The English Patient is a sort of postmodernist ensemble character study, working through the traumatic memories of a nurse, a thief, a combat engineer, and a mysterious burned man who may or may not remember his own name. That sounds really abstract and difficult and boring, but it's actually a beautiful and gripping novel, and one that my undergraduate students always love. It's a book about identity (and its trickiness), all sorts of love, sex, war, trauma, storytelling, reading, nations, imperialism, and what 'home' means. It's also a book about these four very real-feeling characters in a moment of quiet after the violence of World War II. And, I think, it's a book about its own lyrical sentences. Every time I come back to it, I'm surprised to remember how good it is.
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Jeff Scott My favorite is the Sapper. When he rides off in anger over the a bomb and slides off the bridge I felt like all hope in the world slid with him.

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