The Villa San Girolamo, built to protect inhabitants from the flesh of the devil, had the look of a besieged fortress, the limbs of most of the statues blown off during the first days of shelling. There seemed little demarcation between house and landscape, between damaged building and the burned and shelled remnants of the earth. To Hana the wild gardens were further rooms
In spite of the burned earth, in spite of the lack of water. Someday there would be a bower of limes, rooms of green light.
This passage, seen through Hana's eyes, is found in Chapter II of the novel. It describes the Villa San Girolamo, the house in which Hana and Almásy lived. The building was originally used as a convent, protecting its inhabitants "from the flesh of the devil." But now, ironically, whole pieces of the villa are blown away, leaving the inhabitants inside largely unprotected. Nevertheless, the villa remains a type of "holy place." The narrator notes that "there seemed little demarcation between house and landscape." Such an organic image is symbolically important to the novel: straddling the line between house and landscape, building and earth, the villa represents both death and rebirth. War has destroyed the villa, leaving huge holes in walls and ceilings. Nature, however, has returned to fill these holes, replacing absence with life. Such an image reflects the spiritual death and rebirth of the villa's inhabitants, the way they learn to live again after the emotional destruction of war.