A book by Michael Ondaatje which I highly recommend.
Ondaatje tells us in this eponymous, poetic and romantic book, above all, the story of four people who are, in every sense, badly hurt during the second world war.
The first of these is the English Patient. His skin is burnt black and he is beyond recognition because of a plane accident. He is now in a deserted villa in Tuscany, which had before been used as a military hospital. The English Patient is left behind and together with him remains Hana a Canadian nurse. Due to the fact that the territory is controlled by the English they would like to know who this patient is. They are afraid that he is a Nazi.
Hana has seen in her very young life tragedies (loss of her beloved father, her lover, her unborn child and many dying soldiers) almost impossible to imagine and she seems not to be sure whether she is still capable of having feelings.
Then there is Caravaggio a former thief. His thumbs have been cut so he cannot steal anymore. That’s why he is first trying to find Hana, the daughter of a friend of his. Thanks to his experiences we learn more about the English Patient and his whereabouts.
The forth character is Kip, the Sikh sapper. His job is to disarm bombs but even he can’t disarm the last bomb. Kip lived his first part of life in India, whose culture influenced him but he then left his country for England, nation for which he is fighting the war. He does not really belong to any place. In the end, however, he manages to build up a new life back in India.
These above mentioned people are in the mentioned villa, where they play out their interior darkness. I especially love also the episodes, where Ondaatje describes the places/oases the English Patient loved in the Libyan desert, because in the past he was a cartographer and made a map of the Sahara Desert. Almasy was enthralled by the endless wasteland, the star-lit nights or the sandstroms or fata morganas.
I’m adding some more fotos of that surrounding which I, found unspeakably beautiful.
The film by the director Anthony Minghella features: Ralph Fiennes (Almasy), Karin Scott Thomas (Katharine Clifton), Juliette Binoche (Hana-nurse), Naveen Andrews (Kip-the sapper)