1992 1st year edition "Fifth Printing, December 1992" stated on copyright page; Alfred A. Knopf publishers, New York; hardbound in wheat and tan boards with metal foil lettering on cover and spine; very good condition with unmarked pages; dust jacket very good.
The English Patient is a 1992 novel by Michael Ondaatje. The book follows four dissimilar people brought together at an Italian villa during the Italian Campaign of World War II. The four main characters are: an unrecognisably burned man — the eponymous patient, presumed to be English; his Canadian Army nurse, a Sikh British Army sapper, and a Canadian thief. The story occurs during the North African Campaign and centres on the incremental revelations of the patient's actions prior to his injuries, and the emotional effects of these revelations on the other characters. The book won the 1992 Booker Prize, the 2018 Golden Man Booker, and the Governor General's Award.
The novel's historical backdrop is the North African/Italian Campaigns of World War II. The story is told out of sequence, moving back and forth between the severely burned "English" patient's memories from before his accident and current events at the bomb-damaged Villa San Girolamo (in Fiesole), an Italian monastery, where he is being cared for by Hana, a troubled young Canadian Army nurse. The English patient's only possession is a well-worn, and heavily annotated copy of Herodotus's The Histories that has survived the fiery parachute drop.
Hearing the book constantly being read aloud to him brings about detailed recollections of his desert explorations, yet he is unable to recall his own name. Instead, he chooses to believe the assumption by others that he is an Englishman based on the sound of his voice. The patient is in fact László de Almásy, a Hungarian Count and desert explorer, one of many members of a British cartography group.
Caravaggio, an Italian-Canadian in the British foreign intelligence service since the late 1930s, befriended Hana's father before the latter died in the war. He learns that Hana is at the villa caring for a patient. He had remained in North Africa to spy when the German forces gain control and then transfers to Italy. He is eventually caught, interrogated, and tortured; they even cut off his thumbs...