The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje was picked by my book club, and I was thisclose to not even bothering to pick up the book and blowing off that book club meeting. I saw the movie version however many years ago and thought it was excruciating. I figured the book isn’t much better, but after a lot of thought, I decided that I’m not in a book club so I can read what I already have on my shelf (though that’s always nice). I’m in a book club so I can expand my reading, not so I can be a noob and pick and choose which books I read for book club.
It was with much trepidation that I started reading The English Patient, but I found early on that I was really enjoying it! With that said, I’m sorry to say I didn’t really *get* the book. Later when I found out that the author is a poet, I was like, “Oh, no wonder I didn’t get it. This book is all literary and stuff.” But seriously, the writing is lovely, just not…compelling. I liked it well enough, but wouldn’t be able to write a deep paper about it.
Here’s a quick sketch of The English Patient: Hana, a nurse, is in Italy taking care of this English patient (hence, the title) who’s badly burned and won’t tell anyone his identity. They’re alone is an abandonded villa until this other guy, Carvaggio, shows up that used to be friends with Hana’s dad, who was a soldier and was spying on the Germans when he was caught and tortured for his information. Then these other two guys show up, one of whom is Kip, an Indian Sikh, who is an expert bomb deconstructer. Kip hangs around to find any bombs that may have been hidden in the villa. Other stuff happens, but that is basically the plot on which the story hangs.
The story is basically the history of these four characters, Hana, Carvaggio, the English patient, and Kip. Which was okay, but kinda slow. I liked it, but unfortunately it didn’t give us much to talk about at the book club meeting. The book club discussion went something like this:
Not that we were totally quiet, but the discussion was hard to get going, in large part because no one loved it or hated it. I can see why the book won the Booker Prize for fiction (kinda sorta not really), but it was pretty much over my head. I might be able to appreciate the movie a little more now that I’ve read the book, but I don’t think I’ll test the waters on that.
Rating: 85 out of 100
books i done read (she said what I said…only better)