In an effort to get caught up on my book reviews, here is a snapshot of a couple more books that have been part of my summer reading.
59. The English Patient (Michael Ondaajte)
Many of us have read or at least watched the movie, The English Patient. Originally published in 1992, it tells the story of an unidentified, badly burned man. This man, presumed to be English, was being cared for by a Canadian nurse (Hana) in an abandoned hospital in Italy at the end of the war. The couple was joined by Caravaggio, whose experience in the war is unclear but was a Canadian thief and by a Sikh Sapper named Kip who was assigned to disarm bombs left by Hitler’s troops as they abandoned Italy.
The odd group spends their evenings together, telling tales of their experiences and revealing their physical and emotional scars, as the story of the English patient is slowly revealed.
It was a great honour that Michael Ondaatje’s novel won the coveted Golden Man Booker Prize, earlier this year. This award was chosen by the public who voted from a list of the last 50 Man Booker Prize winning books.
This was my second time reading the novel which slowly entranced the reader to keep turning the pages to discover the origin of the English patient and learn the circumstances leading up to his injuries. Like his book Warlight, published earlier this year, the readers are treated to a different perspective of the days following the war and learn a bit about history as they delve into the well-described characters.
60. The Sickness (Alberto Barerra Tyska)
In preparation for my September book club meeting, I borrowed The Sickness from the library. Our theme for this month is Venezuela, celebrating the heritage of one of our members. The novel is set in Venezuela yet the challenges of losing a parent are universal.
It was a quick read and but I struggled with the logistics of consent and the sharing of information. Perhaps the medical system is different in Venezuela but it was surprising that results would be provided to the son of a capable patient leaving him the difficult task of sharing the bad news. As he debated whether to deliver the life limiting prognosis to his father, one of his patients was dealing with his hypochondria and attempting to gain advice from the doctor.
It was an interesting story but I struggled with finding the threads between the two story lines and was hoping for more closure at the end. I do look forward to our discussion both about issues of death and dying and learning more about the country of Venezuela.