This month in the April A to Z Challenge, you’ll read a common phrase in my posts. This phrase is “this novel is one of the best stories I’ve ever read”. The war and the people who experienced it have stories to tell and these stories are so overwhelming they lend themselves to greatness. I encourage you to sample some of these stories. I promise you will not regret taking the time. To help me develop an alphabetical list for this challenge, I used Goodreads.com. Do you know that there are 883 fiction 480 nonfiction books on the website’s Listopia as voted on by members? That is a lot of stories and facts just waiting for us to explore.
Today for the letter E, I decided on the English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.
The English Patient was a Booker Prize-winning novel that traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II. First, we have Hana, a young Canadian who serves the Allies as a nurse. She falls in love with the idea of the English patient, of the thought that she is caring for a saint-like man. Her heart, however, belongs to Kip, to whom she looks for protection as she stands at the boundary between adolescence and adulthood. Next, we have the maimed thief, Caravaggio. A Canadian thief whose profession is legitimized during the war when he puts his skills to use for the British intelligence effort. Caravaggio serves as a kind of surrogate father to Hana and sheds light on the identity of the English patient. The third person in the story is Kip. A Sikh man from India who works as a “sapper,” defusing bombs for the British forces in World War II. A brown man in a white nation, Kip has grown emotionally detached, aware that people will not always react positively to him. His emotional detachment stands in the way of his relationships, most significantly his relationship with Hana. Each is haunted by the puzzle of the English patient, the nameless, burned man who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue unfold throughout this book.
Don’t stop there. So many other books about or set in the time of war are available. Here are a few links to Goodreads: