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.
"Warlight is a quiet new masterpiece from Michael Ondaatje...An elegiac thriller [with] the immediate allure of a dark fairy tale. In Warlight, all is illuminated, at first dimly then starkly, but always brilliantly." -Anna Mundow, The Washington Post
"If writers are cartographers of the heart, Michael Ondaatje's oeuvre could fill an atlas. . . [he] evokes a kaleidoscope of ideas and moods with exquisite lyricism...Warlight is an intricate ballet of longing and deception, and a singular ode to the mother-child bond." -Hamilton Cain, O Magazine
"[Ondaatje] casts a magical spell, as he takes you into his half-lit world of war and love, death and loss, and the dark waterways of the past." -Hermione Lee, New York Review of Books
"Mr. Ondaatje has stepped into John de la Carré's world of spies and criminals...his novel views history as a child would, in ignorance but also innocence and wonder." -Sam Sacks, WSJ
"[An] intricate and absorbing novel. . . . This is a book rich with detail. The reader is bound to be conscious of a hidden ballast of research, the seven-eighths of the iceberg without which the thing would founder, but so deft is the writing that you forget this, simply appreciating the meticulous background that brings alive a time and a place. -Penelope Lively, The New York Times Book Review
"A tender coming of age story so warmly delivered you almost forget how much of its plot involves smuggling, spycraft, and assassins...the novel becomes at once a mystery tale and an exploration into how much of our lives are out of our control, especially in wartime." -Mark Athitakis, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Michael Ondaatje's novel Warlight is a masterpiece of shifting memory... a book made lush through layers of experience instead of description." -Bethanne Patrick, The San Diego Union-Tribune
"[A] haunting, brilliant novel from Ondaatje...Mesmerizing from the first sentence, rife with poignant insights and satisfying subplots, this novel about secrets and loss may be Ondaatje's best work yet." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A lyrical mystery that plays out in the shadow of World War II...Ondaatje's shrewd character study plays out in a smart, sophisticated drama, one worth the long wait for fans of wartime intrigue." -Kirkus Review (starred review)
Michael Ondaatje is the author of six previous novels, a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. The English Patient won the Booker Prize; Anil's Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Giller Prize, and the Prix Médicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje now lives in Toronto.
This dramatic Family novel plays shortly after World War II... Two teenagers are left behind by their parents. Later, as adults, they begin to understand what happend back then...
von miss.mesmerized am 08.05.2018
Rachel and Nathaniel were still teenagers when immediately after WW II their parents packed to leave the country. The kids were supposed to attend boarding school after summer break, but only a few days after the school had begun again, they left and went completely to live with a man they named „The Moth“ who was supposed to be...
Rachel and Nathaniel were still teenagers when immediately after WW II their parents packed to leave the country. The kids were supposed to attend boarding school after summer break, but only a few days after the school had begun again, they left and went completely to live with a man they named „The Moth“ who was supposed to be their caretaker while the parents were away. Even though they at first felt left behind, it was a time of freedom and carelessness, the house often full of interesting and mysterious people and both, Nathaniel and Rachel, became somehow used to the situation. When their mother suddenly showed up again, they understood that things were not what they had thought them to be. It was only after their mother’s death, when Nathaniel is approached by special operations, that he gains insight in who his mother had actually been.
“Warlight” – during the time of the second world war, when there were frequent blackouts in London, there was only the so called “Warlight”, dimmed lights to guide emergency traffic, the rest was covered in black and you could only sense movements in the shadow but not see them. This is the perfect title for Michael Ondaatje’s novel: a lot of what happens remains somewhere in the dark for the protagonist to see. He can only assume things from the quick glances he is granted, but he cannot be sure if his hypotheses are correct. It also represents quite well the atmosphere which is always a bit gloomy and melancholy and certainly never joyful.
At the beginning of the novel, the reader just as the protagonist and narrator is quite irritated by the parents’ behaviour. They leave the country, neither telling their children where exactly they are headed too or why after all they have to leave. The teenagers stay with people they hardly know and not to forget: the war has just ended and the memories of the bombings are still fresh. How could ever parents do such a thing? It becomes even more infuriating when they find their mother’s luggage which she obviously didn’t take with her. It takes some time to figure out the mother’s real role and thus to understand her behaviour. This is also when the novel becomes the most interesting.
This is also where Michael Ondaatje’s virtuosity becomes evident: none of the characters, no matter how random he or she seemed, was introduced without a reason and they all have their specific role in the novel. It all makes sense and culminates in much greater questions than the nucleus of a single family we are presented with at first can ever offer: how far would you go for your country? What are you willing to sacrifice? And it clearly shows that the two categories of “good” and “bad” are simply inadequate for the world we are living in.