The English Patient is a beautiful, lyrical novel, where the author’s engagement with the language is at times transcendent, creating a nearly a super-sensual world where all human actions are fraught with deep, chilling, often loving , but never boring actions.
The only criticism I can level against this novel is the end. And in the context to the overall work, which comes close to ‘masterpiece’ status, it is very damning.
Not enough groundwork is laid for Kip’s transformation. Ondaatje was done with the novel, and needed a plot connected element to bring it to an end. But we get no sense that Kip is maladjusted to his situation at all. He seems quite content until he is suddenly not.
The effect is jarring, and the reader feels robbed of another ending that would have been more fitting to the rest of this superbly crafted novel.