The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)

On Thursday 4th March, 2010, World Book Day, we asked teachers to talk to their classes about their favourite books or books they are currently enjoying.  Mr Lines read the opening chapter of Michael Ondaatje’s ‘The English Patient’.  The story of this novel is described here:

“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.”  Nielsen Bookdata Online

A couple of reviews of this novel recommend it and Michael Ondaatje unequivocally:

‘One of the most innovative and liberating writers of our time’ Guardian ‘Magnificent … A wise and graceful book about history itself’ Sunday Times ‘The best piece of fiction in English I’ve read in years’ Independent on Sunday ‘Ondaatje has now written the extraordinary novel we have been awaiting from him: THE ENGLISH PATIENT is a masterpiece’ Financial Times  Nielsen Bookdata Online

 Personally I enjoyed it immensesly, Ondaatje’s use of English is lyrical which makes it a captivating read.  Mr Lines thinks it is ‘one of the great modern novels’.  I agree!  Of course, it was made into an acclaimed Oscar-winning film by Anthony Minghella but the film doesn’t match the beauty of the prose – discuss!


Author: Berkhamsted School Library

Main aims for Berkhamsted School Library • to provide a central resource for the whole school curriculum • to encourage an ethos of enquiry and discovery • to assist pupils in becoming confident and independent learners • to develop research and information skills throughout the school • to offer resources which enrich cultural values and experiences for pupils, as well as have a role in their recreational life and promote reading for pleasure as a lifelong activity

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