The English Patient

Sat 25 January 2014 by Thejaswi Puthraya

A patient burned beyond recognition, his devoted young nurse, an emotionally confused military man and a retired thief come together under the roof of war torn villa.

This Michael Ondaatje novel is set during the North African conquest of World War II where Almasy gets burned beyond recognition during an aerial recce. He is transferred to a villa which has been converted into a makeshift hospital in Italy under the care of Hana, a young Canadian nurse. Here she meets Kip, a Sikh bomb defusing specialist employed by the Allied forces and David Carvaggio, a thief on the payrolls of the allied forces entrusted with the task of picking up axis' documents. Hana gets emotionally attached to this English patient even though she knows that it is against her profession.

The English Patient is a very slow story that painlessly shifts between the deserts of North Africa to the beautiful countryside of Italy and wonderfully captures the emotional conflict of each character in the novel.