Warlight by Michael Ondaatje


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 Nathani...

Details Warlight

Release DateMay 8th, 2018
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, War, World War II, Literary Fiction

Reviews Warlight

  • Will Byrnes
    In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals. When we are young we rely on the people who surround us to introduce us to the world, to explain the many elements of life that can be so confusing, overwhelming, or simply opaque to young eyes. Some of this knowledge can only come from first-hand experience, but it helps to have adults at hand, of a trustworthy sort, who can help us along the road of b...
  • Tammy
    This might have been a coming of age novel but it’s not. It might have been a post WWII novel but it’s not. It might have been a family drama of sorts but it’s not. The narration is messy, the plot is pointless and the premise is unbelievable. Warlight meandered about without a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Faith
    Warlight was the faint illumination that guided people during the blackouts. In this book it's a guide through a personal history. Nathaniel was 14 and his sister Rachel almost 16 in 1945 when their parents left for a year's stay in Singapore, leaving the children in the care of their lodger who they called The Moth. The Moth filled their home with dubious, possibly criminal, characters including a greyhound smuggler called The Darter. What seeme...
  • Nancy
    "In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals." WarlightFrom the opening line, I fell into under the spell of Nathaniel's story about how he and his sister Rachel were abandoned at ages fourteen and sixteen to the care of relative strangers, their third-floor lodger, whom they called The Moth, and the Pimlico Dancer.After their father departed, going to Asia for his work, never to be seen again, the...
  • ♥ Sandi ❣
    3 stars Thanks to Penguin's First to Read and Knopf for allowing me to read and review this ARC. Publishes May 8, 2018. I selected this book because of the author, Michael Ondaatje. I read his novel English Patient in the early 90's and l0ved that book. However I was much less enthused about this book. Only having just over 300 pages this novel felt like it was 600 or more pages long. I felt the story was so drug out that it lost any semblance of...
  • Jill
    The word “warlight” suggests a murky shrouded light that serves to only partially and poorly illuminate a tableau, and indeed, this is an apt title for Michael Ondaatje’s latest book.Our narrator is a teenage boy, Nathaniel Williams, who is left, with his slightly older sister Rachel “in the care of two men who may have been criminals.” Their mother, Rose, disappears from their lives in 1945, purportedly to engage in some sort of underc...
  • Dave
    Quite often novels come right out at the very start and illustrate what's at stake, what matters, and where things are going. Not so in Warlight where Ondaatje starts with a bizarre situation of two children abandoned by their parents during wartime England and left with a collection of odd individuals. Very little about the situation makes sense and there are mysteries to peel back like peeling back each thin skin of an onion. We see Nathaniel a...
  • Ayelet Waldman
    The point of writing novels is to get early galleys of incredible novels like this one. My book is kicking my ass so hard that I think one of the reasons I’m still in this business is because I get to read books like this.
  • Andrea Johnston
    Beginning as I do at the beginning, and taking two steps back to reflect, I have to say that I was ready (and raring) to give "Warlight" a bad review. Especially after I read some of the other reviews on the work. However, upon the completion of those two important backward steps and the conviction that my old Canadian Literature professor would be gravely disappointed that I didn't "dig deeper," I have come to a very different conclusion.For fan...
  • Creager
    Should you read Warlight? If you read English Patient and thought I should read the new Ondaatje, I would just read The English Patient again. I also give similar advice with the Ian McEwan bibliography, just read Atonement. Interestingly, if you are still feeling inclined to read Warlight, just read Atonement due to the successful play by play of a child’s point of view, whereas in Warlight Nathaniel’s self-centered POV is so lackluster it d...
  • Moray Teale
    It’s World War II in London and Nathaniel and his sister are left by their parents in the care of a mysterious and somewhat dubious figure known as the Moth. His acquaintances are unusual, varied and often rather suspicious and the two children soon come to the conclusion that their soft-spoken guardian is a criminal. But why would their parents leave them under the eye of such a man? Why did they leave so suddenly for Singapore? Why is their m...
  • Davida Chazan
    How lucky am I that I got to read and review my favorite author’s newest novel before its publication date? Yes, Michael Ondaatje has a new book coming out shortly, and if you want to know what I thought of it (as if you can’t guess already), I invite you to read my review of this book on my blog, here. http://drchazan.blogspot.com/2018/04/...
  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
    Nathaniel and his sister Rachel are left in the care of a mysterious man they nickname The Moth when their father receives a job promotion requiring a year abroad. Their mother will go with him and they will stay behind in London to attend boarding school.It is soon revealed that the family has many secrets that 15 year old Nathaniel tries to understand with limited experience while surrounded by people he believes are supposed to keep him and hi...
  • Clay
    Michael Ondaatje's books are for those who enjoy the sentence by sentence journey of a story and the depths the gradual accretion of beautiful, thoughtful sentences can reach. I read this wondering if the story--two teenagers left by their parents in the care of men who might be criminals during WWII--might be a young adult story, but it solidly adult in style. What the story's really about is the young man's lifelong search to understand who is ...
  • Alison
    8.8/10. There’s almost nothing I love more than a poetic spy novel. And this is probably my favorite Ondaatje since “In The Skin of a Lion,” even if the twist is kind of unnecessary.
  • Mary Lins
    Opening the pages of "Warlight", the new novel by Michael Ondaatje, is like stepping back to 1945, both because of the setting and because of the elegant prose. Immediately after the war, most of London still in rubble from The Blitz, siblings, Rachel and Nathaniel find themselves largely on their own after their parents decamp to Singapore leaving them under the dubious guardianship of a "friend" whom they call The Moth. Gradually it is revealed...
  • Kristen Beverly
    Beautiful words on the page, but I felt like I didn’t connect or care about any of the characters as they were written on the page. I wanted more of Rachel and The Moth, but I felt like after the first part, they only came up sporadically. I wish their characters had been fleshed out more throughout the whole story, as they were the interesting ones.
  • Lou
    Two kids left with strangers in London, whilst parents disappeared, with instructions.Unraveling the mystery of mother’s various disappearances cloaked in work for the country of great importance.Great liars for big reasons the narrator lived amidst in his days of youth.Hypnotic, atmospheric narrative with Intrigue and mystery, a meditation on identity and search for identities and truths. A retrospective reliving to days of teens and coming of...
  • Karlan
    This haunting story narrated by a boy whose mother did undercover intelligence work during and after WWII is memorable. I found myself thinking of Proust and small memories which evoke a person, a place, a time. The opening section may appeal to teen readers, but only more sophisticated readers would finish the later sections. The characters are fascinating and the language exceptional as nostalgia is evoked and questions answered.
  • Maggie
    A mess of a book. The narrators and narratives are all over the map. The abrupt switch from a first person narrator to an omniscient narrator is sloppy and unbelievable. And to make matters worse, this book is boring. The only reason I finished it was because I always finish books I start - a habit I sometimes regret as in this case.
  • Laura
    Ondaatje is one of the few authors who own real estate in my literary heart and WARLIGHT, his latest novel cements his position there. The story of two teenaged siblings in the aftermath of World War ll is a lyrical and insightful coming-of-age tale akin to the author's previous book, THE CAT'S TABLE. The two stories are familial in theme - children displaced due to events in history, not a parent to be found anywhere and a rich cast of character...
  • Chrissie
    Warlight is one of those simple, quiet books in tone and expression, but heavy and complex in content. Reading this was like standing at the edge of the surf with feet firmly planted on the wet sand. A wave comes and washes away the sand around where your feet are planted, you move and stand in a nearby spot, only to have another wave come in unexpectedly from a diagonal. The tide coming in or going out, neither high tide nor low ... but between....
  • miss.mesmerized mesmerized
    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 a...
  • Angie
    Warlight is the story of a mother and a son, divided into two parts. In the first, the narrator, an older Nathaniel who is trying to piece together a story of his youth, tells us about his parents leaving and the cast of quirky characters surrounding him and his sister in the aftermath. He focuses on his own adventures, his exploration of the world around him, and his young love. But more and more, he explores the mystery of the identities of the...
  • Jean Kolinofsky
    In 1945 Nathaniel and his sister Rachel were left in the care of a boarder who they called Moth when their parents departed for Singapore for their father’s job. It wasn’t until some time later that they found their mother’s carefully packed trunk in the attic. This became only one of the mysteries of their childhood that would haunt them. Warlight is told from Nathaniel’s perspective. It is a coming of age story that is filled with an un...
  • Mark
    Set during World War II and the years that follow, Warlight is a coming-of-age novel by Michael Ondaajte, the author of the acclaimed book, The English Patient. Following the stories of siblings Michael and Rachel, and to a lesser extent the shadowy collection of characters who move in and out of their lives, including their parents, the novel is also a homage to the unnamed men and women who worked in Britain’s secret service and the price the...
  • Andy Lillich
    If your a lover of literary fiction, as I am, by which I mean a fan of beautiful writing and stories told from a unique point of view, you are probably already a fan of Michael Ondaatje and will be intrigued by this unusually slender novel with the mysterious title of Warlight and with the intriguing image of a WW II era male figure surrounded by grey dimness donning its cover. If you are none of these, I think you might give this one a pass. The...
  • Sonia Reppe
    Part 1 was good: Nathaniel is a young teenager during WWII when he and his older sister are taken under the care of a guardian when their mother leaves (ostensibly to join their father abroad). This guardian and his milieu introduce them to a world of surreptitious activities that Nathaniel only starts to understand after a violent attack on them starts to bring out the truth. End of part 1.I really liked this part; I always like the young protag...