I’d heard of The English Patient often, it’s a cult-classic among my parents generation. But it took me a shameful number of years to connect it with one of my favorite authors-and one of the living greats as far as I’m concerned. I first met Michael Ondaatje in Anil’s Ghost, after which I ferreted out his latest work, The Cat’s Table, so it was inevitable that I would eventually get around to The English Patient.
At first I was a bit disappointed, and I’d forgotten his unique poetry-like way of writing, and it took me a while to figure out what was happening, but once I did, I was enraptured.
This story unravels from Italy, to Canada, to Egypt in a conflagration of loves and lives experiencing the Second World War. The tale of unrequited love, of loss, of architecture, of education, is cleverly crafted, and by the time I had finished it, Ondaatje’s skill as a writer was indisputable and it’s no surprise that he won the Booker Prize for this story in 1991.
If you love prose poetry and history, this is one to add to your “must read” list. I paired this with a delicious Sangiovese, a fruity and delightfully palatable wine from Italy, pairing perfectly with this book which is set in the hills of Tuscany.