NATIONAL BESTSELLER • BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST • From the internationally acclaimed, Booker Prize-winning author of The English Patient: “an elegiac thriller [with] the immediate allure of a dark fairy tale” (The Washington Post) set in the decade after World War II that tells the dramatic story of two teenagers and an eccentric group of characters.
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
World War II casts a long shadow in Warlight, which sees Michael Ondaatje returning to The English Patient’s terrain. But this novel is even more mysterious and lyrical than Ondaatje’s global bestseller. In the months after V-Day, Nathaniel and Rachel’s parents take off for Singapore, leaving the London teens behind with an aloof guardian known as The Moth. The novel unfolds like a hazy half-dream, with thugs in Tube stations, seizures in movie theaters, and sex in empty houses. In between, there’s an unforgettable portrait of a family trying to put itself back together.
The term warlight was used to describe the dimmed lights that guided emergency traffic during London's wartime blackouts. The word aptly describes the atmosphere of this haunting, brilliant novel from Ondaatje (The Cat's Table), set in Britain in the decades after WWII, in which many significant facts are purposely shrouded in the semidarkness of history. The narrator, Nathaniel Williams, looks back at the year 1945, when he was 14 and "our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals." Nathaniel and his older sister, Rachel, are stunned to discover that their mother's purported reason for leaving them was false. Her betrayal destroys their innocence; they learn to accept that "nothing was safe anymore." To the siblings' surprise, however, their designated guardian, their upstairs lodger, whom they call the Moth, turns out to be a kind and protective mentor. His friend, a former boxer nicknamed the Pimlico Darter, is also a kindly guide, albeit one engaged in illegal enterprises in which he enlists Nathaniel's help. The story reads like a nontraditional and fascinating coming-of-age saga until a violent event occurs midway through; the resulting shocking revelations open the novel's second half to more surprises. The central irony is Nathaniel's eventual realization that his mother's heroic acts of patriotism during and after the war left lasting repercussions that fractured their family. 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.
I truly enjoyed this book.....some great plot twists and it holds your attention until the last sentence.