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Towards the end of World War II, several people who have been damaged physically and / or emotionally by the war live for a while in an old Italian villa. Hannah, a Canadian nurse, has lost everyone she loved and now takes care of a badly burned patient,... Towards the end of World War II, several people who have been damaged physically and / or emotionally by the war live for a while in an old Italian villa. Hannah, a Canadian nurse, has lost everyone she loved and now takes care of a badly burned patient, supposedly an Englishman suffering from amnesia. They are joined by Caravaggio, a thief and spy for the Allies who was tortuted and crippled when he was caught by the Italians. Then a sapper, a young Sikh (Indian) named Kip, moves in, too. It's his job to defuse mines and bombs in the area, a job that could cost his life any second - and at the same time the people he's working for are disrciminating against him because he's coloured. A tender romance between Kip and Hannah starts, and all the while, the English patient tells about his past and how he ended up here. Before the war he was a desert explorer who fell in love with a married woman. This forbidden affair, combined with the beginning war in the North African desert, led to a terrible tragedy... This is not a simple book to read because several stories are interwoven and they are not told in a linear way - the story jumps back and forth in time and moves between characters and places. As a result, it's comparatively difficult to follow and it certainly helps to read it more than once if you want to fully appreciate it. That being said, I found it utterly beautiful, deeply moving, very intelligent. It's a novel that gives you a lot to feel and to think about regarding war, love, possessiveness, racism, colonialism, art and many other things. Many scenes stay with you. It has been made into a film - and a good one - but so much has been shortened from it that it doesn't achieve the same impact and depth. This is simply one of the best novels I've ever read.