Warlight

Warlight

Book - 2018
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NATIONAL BEST SELLER

From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of The English Patient: a mesmerizing new novel that tells a dramatic story set in the decade after World War II through the lives of a small group of unexpected characters and two teenagers whose lives are indelibly shaped by their unwitting involvement.

In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself--shadowed and luminous at once--we read the story of fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? And what does it mean when the siblings' mother returns after months of silence without their father, explaining nothing, excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn't know and understand in that time, and it is this journey--through facts, recollection, and imagination--that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.
ISBN: 9780525521198
Characteristics: 289 pages ; 22 cm

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JAL49
Oct 06, 2019

Central question of this novel: When we’re unsure of our own family histories, what kind of faulty narratives do we construct to tell ourselves who we are, who our parents were (or still are) and who we should feel loyal to? I lik e Ondaatje’s writing - he’s a poet & his skill with delivering the one definitive detail about a character reflects not only a poet’s way with words, but a poet’s attention to compression. He delivers a character to us by noting, in one case, the green ribbon she wears in her hair. But I think the promotion of this book partly as a “spy novel” was misleading. If you want a page turner, this book probably is not for you. But if characters interest you more than plot, this is an interesting read. Convoluted in spots, and keeping track of the time frame is sometimes difficult. The author indulges in fascinating digressions (who knew that boat traffic in the canals outside London could be so interesting?) Just expect it to move slowly and you’ll be fine.

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m0mmyl00
Aug 05, 2019

A teen aged brother and sister are left by their parents in the care of some pretty shady characters. More than a year later, the children (now young adults) discover their had been working on secret missions for the British government. It was a bit dense and convoluted for pleasurable reading in my opinion, and did not inspire me to read it attentively enough to do it justice.

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MaryJoSchifsky
Jul 08, 2019

Excellent--"warlight" is that of a blue light on a bridge during bombing raids, directing barges
Young man w sister, Dad leaves, then Mom--he learns, as an adult that his Mom works in espionage and is very good at it. She's assassinated, he works in musty files learning who she is/was/what she did. His exper with those she provided to care for him and his sister are the core of the book. Delightful. Evocative. Complete

2
29Rowena
Jul 01, 2019

A beautiful book. I loved the writing and the stories woven around activities during war time England and other surprising things too! It’s the kind of book that stays with me for days and likely for weeks afterwards.

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Papadog
Jun 22, 2019

Great writing, great characters, (with ones such as the Moth, the Dipper...you can just feel who and what they are through the writing),...and no surprise from Ondaatje. Intriguing story, but above all it's the writing that kept me hooked.

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LucasHill
Jun 16, 2019

A grand adventure novel that literally grabs you from the first line, lures you through the history of Britain in WWII, and dares you with the notion that life changes all of us, despite our wishes to conserve what we are in any given moment.

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fred98115
May 16, 2019

It is World War Two and two children are shuffled between different locations, staying with eccentric characters, while, unknown to them, their parents are aiding Britain's war effort. Told from the perspective of the eldest child, a son, who joined MI6 when an adult and then researches his mother's checkered past. Seems written in fits and starts.

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nalahblueberry5
Apr 05, 2019

Gives you a good feel for living in a time of war where things are not real cut and dried. Some beautiful imagery. I like Ondaatje.

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poodlegirl
Mar 04, 2019

This might be the only book I've ever given 2 stars to. It was excruciatingly SLOW! Not a spoiler but only the ending was interesting to me...and, not that much.

r
rlbeekman
Mar 01, 2019

Ondaatje can be a fine prose stylist with acutely observed and distinctive -- and sometimes funny -- descriptions of unusual places, characters, and incidents. However, the story in Warlight has a ramshackle structure papered over by arbitrary mystification and overinflated bromides about the vagaries of memory and secrecy. This general rationalizing fog about the story line is belied by the many passages of sharply rendered details. Noted: the cameo appearance given V.S. Naipaul on pages 175-176.

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MelissaBee
Jan 27, 2019

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Jul 24, 2018

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