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Summary

With unsettling beauty and intelligence, this Golden Man Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an abandoned Italian villa at the end of World War II.  

The nurse Hana, exhausted by death, obsessively tends to her last surviving patient. Caravaggio, the thief, tries to reimagine who he is, now that his hands are hopelessly maimed. The Indian sapper Kip searches for hidden bombs in a landscape where nothing is safe but himself. And at the centre of his labyrinth lies the English patient, nameless and hideously burned, a man who is both a riddle and a provocation to his companions - and whose memories of suffering, rescue and betrayal illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning.

©1992 Michael Ondaatje (P)2020 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about The English Patient

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Worth waiting for.

I've waited years for an audio book of the English Patient and this reading by Jennifer Ehle is superb. Her quiet, unemphatic voice delivers the story so powerfully and subtle shifts denote each character. Brilliant.

9 people found this helpful

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A wonderful story ruined by robotic narration

I was looking forward to listening to this so much but after just a couple of chapters I have given up. The narrator is robotic and just plain irritating- a massive disappointment

7 people found this helpful

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Great book but didn't enjoy the narration

I already knew the story as I had seen the film yet I was keen to listen to the book for all of the missing bits.

The narrator has an American accent which I didn't think suited the story at all! I also felt like there was a lack of emotion in the telling and I found myself thinking about other things whilst listening because her voice was so boring.

5 people found this helpful

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  • 02-09-20

Struggled

I saw the movie based on this book years ago and enjoyed it, so I thought I'd give this a try. I'm sure the story is good, but the narration wasn't engaging.

3 people found this helpful

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Beautiful

Having read The English Patient three times, watched it many more, read the screenplay, too, I anticipated this performance with that poetic sensation you feel stepping into your favourite art gallery to revisit a personally favourite painting. I have not been disappointed, in fact listening has been more beautiful than I imagined it would be. There are a few mispronounced Italian words, but Jennifer Ehle's performance is so personal and sounds so intimate, that this production is another of this text I will return to.

2 people found this helpful

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Even better than the film (of course)

I loved the film but have never thought to look out the book - if anything it’s better than the book. I thought the narrator was brilliant delivering the lines of the English Patient himself particularly well.

2 people found this helpful

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Just my favourite book. ever.

This is my favourite book. It's sheer beauty haunts me, but it has been taken to a whole new level with Jennifer Ehle's voice. There were times when I just stopped whatever it was I was doing when I listened and found myself staring into this broken world, quite overcome as each word entered my ear and seeped somehow into my blood. No other writer arrests me in this way. No other words conjure such alertness in me. Nowhere is more palpable than this desert, these loves and this villa in Italy at the end of the second world war.

1 person found this helpful

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No wonder it has become a classic

This is a beautifully woven tale about four people, from very different backgrounds, at the end of the war. But its setting is more than that - it embraces all of history from when the desert had seas, to Herodotus, to the Renaissance. These people have come together at one tiny point in this huge history.
The dramatic events which have led the so-called English patient to be helpless and badly burned, probably dying, unfold slowly, and the backgrounds of Hanna the nurse, Caravaggio the thief used as a spy, and Kip the sapper also are revealed gradually.
It is a mesmerising story, and I felt Jennifer Ehle’s somewhat flat, emotionless, delivery was perfect for it.
I enjoyed every word and miss it now it is finished!

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent story

I was hooked from the beginning. I've seen the film, but the book weaves so much more into the characters and story. Heartbreakingly beautiful.

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Really struggled

I love the movie, but the book was very heavy going and I found it a chore by the end, the narration was very monotone and seemed to make it drag.