Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Shroud of the Villa

Luigi Diamanti 
Hana, the nurse.
Caravaggio, the thief.
Kip, the bomb dis-abler.
The Unknown English Patient.

These four strangers, made strange by the war, come together in an Italian Villa at the end of WWII.

Hana hopes to cure the English Patient, whom she's fallen in love with. Caravaggio wishes to re-connect with Hana, after years of separation, and help her move on from the English Patient. Kip strives to disable all of the mines that were left behind, making the land safe once again but begins having trouble keeping Hana out of his thoughts.

And the English patient...
a burn victim with no name, only memories to cling to. A mysterious shroud hanging over the shoulders of the villa.
* *
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje was a novel of poetic beauty. At the beginning I struggled to capture his thought and meaning because of the drastic shift of language between other novels I've read lately and The English Patient

Simon Howden
After twenty pages or so, the language morphed into such beautiful prose that I was voracious for more. 

The plot itself was based in memories. Memories of times before the war, comparable to times during and after. It was interesting to see the detailed changes in each character when the comparisons were made. 

With writing style, though beautiful, the stream of consciousness air the words had, made it a bit hard to follow at times. Breaks in the writing signified jumps in time, or a shift in who the story was focusing around. The lack, and sometimes unexpected appearance, of quotations made it difficult to understand when people were conversing or thinking. 

But, this gives the novel a kind of liquidity. It can move to fit the understanding of the reader instead of the reader bending to understand the novel. Each reader can take from the novel what they want, instead of it being forced upon them. 

     The English Patient
                             on Amazon
                          rating: 4/5 cups

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