Jun 19, 2018RogerDeBlanck rated this title 5 out of 5 stars
The English Patient is a powerfully evocative and mesmerizing portrait of the personal toll of war. The haunting storylines take place during the latter days of the Second World War in a small Italian town where three war-wearied individuals converge at a villa. Each of them has varying interest in a fourth character, an utterly unrecognizable Englishman suffering from burns over his entire body. This “English patient” may or may not be who he claims to be, or he may be more than he wants to reveal. Linking characters over time and place, Ondaatje is masterful at unraveling the wounded depth of their pasts. He brings beauty to their trials and finds something lovely out of the horrors and psychological scars of their experiences. The novel explores the obsession of love, the passion of longing, the secrets of identity, and the sources of sadness, insanity, and healing. Ondaatje is that rare writer who can balance the dichotomy of love and hate, kindness and betrayal, and compassion and contempt. The aching lushness of his language and the sureness of his words attain a superior level of craftsmanship. Having read this novel several times, I continue to discover new and enlightening insights each time. Its impact does not diminish.