The English Patient
By Michael Ondaatje
Completed November 24, 2008
Sometimes, a movie can do a story better justice than the book. It’s a rarity indeed, but I believe it to be the case with The English Patient.
I watched the movie nine years ago. I was hugely pregnant, curled up on my sofa and enraptured by this Oscar-winning film of war, love and sacrifice. Having enjoyed the movie, I longed to read the book, and The English Patient finally found itself on my reading list.
Don’t get me wrong; the book was not bad. Parts of it were artistic and introspective with compelling characters. Hana was sad but still had a lust for life; Kip was lost but ready to move on; Caravaggio finally found a purpose for this conniving ways. But the English Patient and his beloved Katharine remained a secret to me. I could never wrap my arms around their relationship. It seemed destructive and loveless, but so little was written about it that I could never tell. To me, this gap was too large to ignore.
Where Michael Ondaatje blossomed with The English Patient was illustrating the destructiveness of war on the soldiers, nurses, civilians and cities involved. War is hell on everyone, and this story drove this point home very well.
If you are a fan of Booker winners, than The English Patient might be one for you; however, I believe the movie is a better way to witness this story. The book, in effect, fell short for me.