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The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

The English Patient

Part of the Bloomsbury Classic Series Series
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February 2011 Guest Editor Carmen Reid on Michael Ondaatje...

The English Patient is a dream of a romantic novel. It follows two love stories, one between a soldier and a nurse which unfolds as the book progresses and the other in the past, being slowly re-told. There is the handsome, mysterious foreigner, a war-torn background, the uptight English marriage about to be blown apart by a passionate affair and ensuing volcanic eruption of emotions. The wife tries to break it off, then the half-crazed husband attempts to kill three of them in a plane-crash. The hero cannot return to rescue the heroine. It might all have become completely melodramatic if it wasn’t so perfectly and beautifully well-written.

The Lovereading view...

A modern classic, this story of four damaged people is beautiful, harrowing and moving. As the lives of these people interconnect a poetically told tale unravels the stories of each individual. A haunting and satisfying read.

If you like Michael Ondaatje you might also like to read books by Tash Aw, Amos Oz and Kazuo Ishiguro.


The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

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.


'One of the most innovative and liberating writers of our time'

'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

About the Author

Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje is the author of five novels including Divisadero, published by Bloomsbury in September 2007 and in paperback in August 2008, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and shortlisted for The Giller Prize and the 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. He has also written a memoir, a non-fiction book on film and several books of poetry. He co-edited Lost Classics, a compendium of wonderful short essays, with Michael Redhill, Esta Spalding and Linda Spalding. His novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize; another of his novels, Anil’s Ghost, won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize and the Prix Medicis. Born in Sri Lanka, he now lives in Toronto.

Author photo © Ulla Montan

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd August 2004


Michael Ondaatje

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Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


336 pages


Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
War & combat fiction



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