I read The English Patient about once a year. It’s a deep, lovely book, refreshingly free from plot and full of the most wonderful prose.
And in its pages I found the following passage. There is something about reading about the way others read that makes me pay attention, as if by reading it closely enough I might discover a secret. This is Hana, the novel’s main character, reading a book she found in a library that has been soaked by water.
She sat in the window alcove in the English patient’s room, the painted walls on one side of her, the valley on the other. She opened the book. The pages were joined together in a stiff wave. She felt like Crusoe finding a drowned book that had washed up and dried itself on the shore. A Narrative of 1757. Illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. As in all of the best books, a line of text for each of them.
She entered the story knowing she would emerge from it feeling she had been immersed in the lives of others, in plots that stretched back twenty years, hef body full of sentences and moments, as if awaking from a sleep with a heaviness caused by unremembered dreams.