Honestly, I wanted to like this book. I wanted to so much that I forced myself all the way up to page 125, before I just had to give up.
It is focused on a villa in Italy in the aftermath of the second World War in which live a group of shell-shocked characters: a severely burnt pilot, his nurse, a sapper who is in love with the nurse, and an ex-spy, with no thumbs, who is also in love with the nurse. Could be interesting, right? Sounds like the bare bones of a good movie, right?
OH IT IS SO POETIC I WANT TO PUKE. I was worried right from the get go, because there are a lot of prepositions, which in my experience is always a bad sign. So it begins: "She stands up in the garden . . . " then "She has sensed a shift . . " "Every four days she washes his black body."
Mr Ondaatje likes a literary flourish. Let me just give you the first and last lines of a couple of sections, chosen quite at random.
". . . her body full of sentences and moments, as if awakening from sleep with a heaviness caused by unremembered dreams."
"This cools her and she likes it when she goes outside and the breezes hit her, erasing the thunder."
"Someday there would be a bower of green limes, rooms of green light."
I know this novel won the Booker, and all that, but I can barely choose a paragraph at random without being irritated. Homicidal, actually, by page 125.