Characters

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Last Updated on May 20, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 268

By chance, a group of such scarred, sensitive people come together in London, where they party and commiserate with each other. The main characters are Teresa Cerrutti, a thirty-year-old American anthropologist recovering from the death of her husband (an archaeologist bitten by poisonous snakes) and a successful operation for uterine...

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By chance, a group of such scarred, sensitive people come together in London, where they party and commiserate with each other. The main characters are Teresa Cerrutti, a thirty-year-old American anthropologist recovering from the death of her husband (an archaeologist bitten by poisonous snakes) and a successful operation for uterine cancer; Ewen McLeod, a Scots Highlander recovering from malaria and a bloody romp through eastern Africa with his gun-running Uncle Gordie; Noel Atherton, an English homosexual recovering from a disastrous affair with a Chinese lover in Hong Kong; and Father Pius Deng, a six-foot-nine Jesuit priest whose Dinka family and village in Africa were wiped out by warfare. There are also numerous minor characters, including a younger Frank Proctor (a prominent CIA agent in Blood Tie), who earns his CIA credentials here by listening through the wall for Teresa and Ewen to make love.

Unhappily there is not much to hear; Teresa and Ewen are too physically debilitated to consummate their love until months after they move in together. This dispiriting note seems, no doubt unintentionally, to set the tone for the entire novel. Although the disparate cast of characters sounds exotic and exciting, the characters do not live up to their billing. They are something of a bore: their stories are too broken up, their passions too enfeebled, and their personalities too unconvincing. The most sympathetic character is Father Pius Deng, who is gratuitously killed off at the end by a group of London punks. Apparently his death is meant to enforce the novel's theme, to provide a kind of tough final exam for the celebratory spirit.

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