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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.
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Haunting and harrowing, as beautiful as it is disturbing, The English Patient tells the story of the entanglement of four damaged lives in an Italian monastery as World War II ends. The exhausted nurse, Hana; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burn victim who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning. In lyrical prose informed by a poetic consciousness, Michael Ondaatje weaves these characters together, pulls them tight, then unravels the threads with unsettling acumen.
A book that binds readers of great literature, The English Patient garnered the Booker Prize for author Ondaatje. The poet and novelist has also written In the Skin of a Lion, Coming Through Slaughter and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid; two collections of poems, The Cinnamon Peeler and There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do; and a memoir, Running in the Family.From the Publisher:
"A rare and spellbinding web of dreams."
"A magically told novel...ravishing...many-layered."
--Los Angeles Times
"Profound, beautiful and heart-quickening."
"Lyrical.... An exquisite ballet that takes place in the dark."
--Boston Sunday Globe
"A tale of many pleasures--an intensely theatrical tour de force but grounded in Michael Ondaatje's strong feeling for distant times and places."
--The New York Times Book Review
"A poetry of smoke and mirrors."
--Washington Post Book World
"It is an adventure, mystery, romance, and philosophical novel in one.... Michael Ondaatje is a novelist with the heart of a poet."
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