Twenty-year-old Hana is living in an isolated villa outside Tuscany. It's 1945 and the Germans have retreated, leaving mines and burned-out buildings behind. Hana's nursing a badly burned man she calls the English patient, as his identity is unknown. She's later joined by a man named Caravaggio, an older friend of the family, and Kirpal Singh, a young military engineer who defuses bombs for a living. These four exist without electricity, little running water, and large holes in ceiling and walls, yet none of them seem overly eager to leave. In fact, each character seems almost complacent about their living arrangement, but why?
This beautifully written book is about physical, emotional, and psychological isolation due, in large part to war, yet there's more to it than that. Slowly, truths and motives are unraveled, as each character comes to terms with past and present. Interestingly, the future isn't considered much until the end, and this was problematic for me. One key question wasn't answered, (or if it was, it went right over my head) and after investing time to read 302 pages, the ending was a bit of a letdown.