Literary Award Winners Fiction Book Club discussion

The English Patient
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Past Reads > The English Patient through Part II

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Tamara (tamaracat) | 152 comments Mod
Discuss through the end of Part II. Please place spoilers under a cut.


Laurajean (laurajeanc-w) Loving the prose. Such evocative writing.


Tamara (tamaracat) | 152 comments Mod
I'm a little confused by this book. I'm not exactly sure what is supposed to be happening. I do find the writing lovely though.

It's also sort of interesting to be reading this book after just seeing the movie Monuments Men, which deal with WWII and art, and in some ways I find this book to be about a loss of art and beauty of WWII, yet also finding the beauty in broken things in the aftermath.

I find the nurse character a bit pitiful, but am eager to learn more about her story. A little skeeved out by her "relationship" with the older friend of her fathers?

I think it's interesting that the English Patient has no memory of who he is but can remembers stories of what happened to him.

Looking forward to reading more.


Ashley I was also confused by this book. It was too all over the place for me. I gave up on it after reading about 40% of it as I wasn't enjoying it. I remember liking the movie so I am disappointed I did not feel the same way about the book.


Sarah (sarahcw) I have not finished the book and there are things I do not love about it, but I would say it is worth reading if only for this one section alone: "He crouched by the burned man. He made a skin cup with the soles of his feet and leaned back to pluck, without even looking, certain bottles. With the uncorking of each tiny bottle the perfumes fell out. There was an odour of the sea. the smell of rust. Indigo. Ink. River-mud arrow-wood formaldehyde paraffin ether. . . "
The humanity of the burned man and the "merchant doctor, this king of oils and perfumes" are wonderfully familiar, and yet the other-ness, the foreignness of the men and their experiences (camels screaming in the background? what does a camel scream sound like?) wake a strange hunger in me to go, see, taste, hear, experience. I had never thought to make a skin cup from the soles of my feet before.
Likewise, I found the "use" the Bedouins made of the burned man fascinating - he could, by touch, identify armaments of various sorts and the proper ammunition for each. What does one have to do to pick up such a skill? How did the Bedouins know that he'd be able to help them in this way?


message 6: by Cat (new) - rated it 2 stars

Cat | 28 comments I was frustrated with the start of this book but I think I was reading it wrong. I was attempting to find conflict and characterization, and I think the book is more like a poem. I think I'm going to try to just let it wash over me and sort of "turn my mind off." I think I will enjoy it more if I do that. Sarah, what you said about the burned man's skills--it seems like the burned man has some kind of savant quality. He seems to have a photographic memory; he's almost otherworldly. Really weird and interesting.


message 7: by Cat (new) - rated it 2 stars

Cat | 28 comments And here's a 1-star review by "Adam" from the main page of the English Patient. I actually kind of see what he's saying, but I'm still going to stick with the book and read it as if it's a poem. "Michael Ondaatje's prose is the literary equivalent of having a gossamer skein repeatedly thrown over your face and then dragged away; fleeting and insubstantial, but just present enough to be really *ing annoying."


Kamil (coveredinskin) | 93 comments After finishing very late our last reading ( the round house), I'm about to pick the next book.

I'd read The Interpreter of Maladies, but it's more fun to do it when everybody else reads it too, so after finishing first great story I've stopped.

Meanwhile I could read English Patient, but it looks like nobody is really enjoying it (even Tamara's comment was bias). I come here twice a day to read something great about this book that would make me jump on it. I find nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat:)


Tamara (tamaracat) | 152 comments Mod
Ashley wrote: "I was also confused by this book. It was too all over the place for me. I gave up on it after reading about 40% of it as I wasn't enjoying it. I remember liking the movie so I am disappointed I did..."

Ashely, I am close to giving up. I also remember liking the movie though I don't remember what it was about. There doesn't seem to be a clear plot which is annoying me.


Tamara (tamaracat) | 152 comments Mod
Cat wrote: "I was frustrated with the start of this book but I think I was reading it wrong. I was attempting to find conflict and characterization, and I think the book is more like a poem. I think I'm going ..."

I will try this. I am looking too much for the story and not finding it so maybe I will just read the words and not pay too much attention.


Tamara (tamaracat) | 152 comments Mod
Kamil wrote: "After finishing very late our last reading ( the round house), I'm about to pick the next book.

I'd read The Interpreter of Maladies, but it's more fun to do it when everybody else reads it too, ..."


Yes Kamil, lots of toil! I probably won't keep reading. I am waiting for Maladies also!


Laurajean (laurajeanc-w) Now, me, on the other hand...I'm enjoying this book very much. I find the writing to be quite beautiful with some strong images.

Early on in the book, realized it would be best to just let it all flow over me, and appreciate each portion for its own sake.

I'm past the midpoint, and may finish this one today. It's the second time I've read it. Am planning on the movie after.


Pierre | 3 comments The writing is beautiful. There are so many passages that I found to be a masterful use of language. In regards to the content, there are parts that I find very engaging, others not so much. Sometimes I get confused by who is saying what. But I've finally decided that most of the book seems to be from the point of view of a dreamlike state. Perhaps the drug addled patient? Perhaps the other emotionally wounded characters, all damaged by the war? Not sure, but I'm just going with it. There is still something engaging about it for me.


message 14: by Cat (new) - rated it 2 stars

Cat | 28 comments I put it down for a few days, read another book by Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland) in the meantime, and now I'm ready to get back into the drug addled dreamlike state of the English Patient.


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