The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje The writing ….what can I say? I love it:

She had always wanted words. She loved them, grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape. Whereas I thought words bent emotions like sticks in water. She returned to her husband. “From this point on,” she whispered, “we will either find or lose our souls. Seas move away. Why not lovers? “

When we parted for the last time, Maddox used the old farewell: “May God make safety your companion”. And then I strode away from him saying, “There is no God.”

Both excerpts are found in ”Part Nine: The Cave of Swimmers”.

With some friends, one can disagree about almost everything and still one remains friends. The writing keeps the reader wondering and thinking, and it flows beautifully. It creates an ambiance; it creates a sensual feeling. Rather than depicting sex crudely, the lines create an atmosphere of sensuality that is inviting. That is what I felt when I listened to “Part Eight: The Holy Forest”. I do not understand the meaning of every line, but my mind keeps churning and for me the sentences sing. Physical attraction cannot be pinpointed to words and thoughts, it just exists. You feel comfortable or enticed simply by the other’s presence. You feel the tension or the ease in the author’s lines.

I suppose I should have copied other sections…..There are so many that are lovely. Ondaatje draws scenes that you never want to forget. Chapter ten: They are celebrating Hana’s b-day. They are outside on a terrace of the wrecked Italian villa. It is night. The “English Patient”, the burned one is upstairs in his room. By the way he is not English…. Kip has made a dinner for them, a dinner that is for the others because he only eats “raw onions” and fresh vegetables and he will never drink the wine. He is a sapper, an explosive expert, the one who dismantles the unexploded mines of which there are many in Italy following the war. The date is 11945. He is also a Sikh. It is he that has collected snail shells and put oil in them for a flicker of light. Caravaggio, the maimed Italian thief/spy, a long-time friend from her childhood will give Hana a story. And Hana, she pulls off her sneakers and climbs barefoot onto the table and sings the Marseilles. These are the four main characters of the story. Are you curious about these individuals? How do they connect? What do they feel for each other? How have they changed each other? Do you enjoy beautiful, suggestive, delicious writing? Well then, read the book. Or listen to it, as I have done.

Christopher Cazenove is the narrator of the audiobook. You easily recognize the different characters’ voices. I particularly love the voice of the “English patient”. There are a few songs. I wish he had dared to sing them. I love it when narrators do that.

I removed one star because sometimes it is quite difficult to understand what is going on. You certainly have to pay very close attention. The jumps in time and character speaking can be confusing.