The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
July 30, 2009 § 2 Comments
I had genuinely thought that this would be a good book. So many good things have been said about it, I simply assumed that I would naturally enjoy it as well. Unfortunately, it was not to be so.
The story revolves around 4 main characters: the English patient, a girl called Hana, her uncle from childhood, and a Sikh by the name of Kip. Their lives are suddenly thrown together at this Italian villa, sometime during 1945 when WW2 was coming to and end.
I cannot say much about the book, simply because I don’t think I got the plot all that well. The writing was a little too all-over-the-place for me, with different sections of the book being told through different perspectives by the different characters, but not mentioned all too clearly.
I struggled to understand the sudden changes in the story and timeline, and sometimes I would be very unsuccessful in identifying the correct person. This continually became a source of frustration for me, as I kept on getting lost and having to go back a couple of pages to re-read because I suddenly find out (two pages too late) that I had been thinking of the wrong character!
There were of course some parts of the book that, when I was clear of what the author was intending, I quite enjoyed. The descriptions were quite exquisite at times, and I did quite like the way that I was reminded in the later part of the story about what had already been described at the beginning.
Maybe it is because of the way the story is told, almost in a backward to forward way, that got me rather confused. I’m normally quite quick to catch on to various storytelling methods, but this one just didn’t quite do the trick for me.
Conclusion: I didn’t quite enjoy the book, to be honest. There were times when I would just look at the amount of pages I had left and found myself thinking, I just want to finish the book. But then again, like we always say, one man’s meat is another man’s poison.