This book is a literary .zip file. You know the files that you press "execute" or "unzip" and the small file unfolds itself over and over until it becomes a much larger file? This rather small book (my edition said 280 some odd pages) is like that. What starts as a small story about a three week voyage from India to England for a group of children, describing their adventures and the interesting people and situations that they encounter unfolds and expands into depths that most writers could not reach in 1,000 pages. Thoughtful, passionate, heart-breaking, hilarious and thrilling. This story tells of a time not so long ago yet long gone; peers through a key hole into exotic lands and evesdrops on the nefarious as well as the mundane; and in the process tells a story that is fully of mystery and menace, humor and deep emotion. There are few writers who can take the reader into another world like Ondaatje can. He is a master.