“The final curtain is closing on the Second World War, and Hana, a nurse, stays behind in an abandoned Italian villa to tend to her only remaining patient. Rescued by Bedouins from a burning plane, he is English, anonymous, damaged beyond recognition and haunted by his memories of passion and betrayal. The only clue Hana has to his past is the one thing he clung on to through the fire – a copy of The Histories by Herodotus, covered with hand-written notes describing a painful and ultimately tragic love affair.”
Michael Ondaatje is a poet and visionary. He unravels this non-chonological tale in wisps of dynamic and haunting language, draws a vivid landscape through words and delves deeply into the lives and souls of the integral characters. The English Patient is at once a tragic love story as well as an exploration of the human need for meaning and acceptance. Being Ondaatje, it also questions nationality and identity through the disparate backgrounds of the characters brought together by the villa. Beautiful, but also a slightly challenging read.