CBR14Bingo – Rec’d – This book is “recommended” in the sense that when I was in high school, a crush of mine told me I should read it, and it was presented in an obviously challenging way, but I didn’t get it. I also didn’t get that it was flirtatious, and honestly a little revealing about their intentions.
The book has the real disservice of people deciding that the movie is long and boring. I actually like the movie a lot, but the weird thing about this whole thing is that the book is relatively short, especially in conjunction with a movie that is almost three hours long. It’s weird because we associate long movies with long books, and fair enough, it does honestly take about three hours to even remotely tackle even an average or short book. The movie is definitely presented in an epic language though, leaning very heavily on David Lean films as reference points.
The story here involves a de facto and ad hoc military hospital of sorts at the end of WWII (it’s not entirely the end just yet), where a small group of wayward people find themselves. This group includes Hana, a young Canadian nurse; Caravaggio, a mysterious older man who knew Hana’s father; Kip, a English-Indian Sikh trained as a sapper; and the title English patient, a man who was pulled from the burning wreckage of a plane crash in the desert and whose injuries and blurry memory hide his true identity.
The novel is told mostly in the present of this initial setting, but as the English patient is able to tell us about his life, we learn more and more about what brought us to this place. His story involves an archaeological research endeavor into the desert, love and betrayal, and the possibility of statecraft and spycraft. In addition to these past stories, the novel begins to also move us beyond the scope of the war into the post-war period, where the failures of European and American colonialism and nationhood give way a different world.