The English Patient

Like everyone else on the planet, I saw the movie The English Patient.  It was a beautiful movie.  Won many awards.  Stands up re-watching it years later.

I always planned to read the book, but it never quite made the reading list.  So, when I noticed the audio book on the shelf at my local library a few weeks ago I thought it was a great chance to give what I thought might be a tough book a try.

Wow – after watching the movie, the audio book was really hard to follow.  The prose itself was beautiful, but the book is sequenced so differently than the movie I regularly wondered if this was indeed the same story.  The characters seemed much different and some of my favorite scenes didn’t exist in the book.  If it had been a hard copy book I would have had the option of flipping around to figure out how things were sequencing, but that’s not possible in an audio book (particularly while you’re driving).

It was still a wonderful book, but it took me a long time to simply let go of my need for a linear plot (not to mention figuring out where any given scene was in the movie) and simply enjoy.

Ondaatje is a wonderful writer and I look forward to reading some of his books.  And some day I will read The English Patient.  This time I will try to erase the memory of the movie before I start.

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