Warlight

Warlight

Book - 2018
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Decades after World War II, Nathaniel Williams reflects on his experiences in 1945, when his parents left him and his sister in the care of a mysterious neighbor.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780525521198
0525521194
Characteristics: 289 pages ; 22 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Transport yourself to the mist and mystery or post-war England.

Graham F.: "The fog of war drifts in and out in 'Warlight,' a masterful piece of almost-historical fiction. Lose yourself in dreamy landscapes, darkness, smuggling, mystery, and danger that always follows but rarely reveals itself in post-WWII London."

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DPL_Graham Oct 24, 2018

Have you ever tried to clearly remember your childhood friends and the distinct individuals you saw day-to-day? People who would come and go for reasons that were beyond your understanding? In childhood, the people surrounding us are often painted as caricatures in our mind and it is only later i... Read More »


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a
AaronAardvark1940
Dec 23, 2019

A well-researched historical novel, this is a jigsaw puzzle of a book. Another of our "project" books, this appealed to my wife's love of mysteries and to my interest in the historical background. We worked together to understand the hints and to try to understand what sort of person Nathaniel becomes.

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dagny49
Nov 08, 2019

Recommended by Karen’s mom

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SherriWatts
Nov 08, 2019

Pauline

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sharon711
Nov 02, 2019

Ondaatje gives us a nostalgic story lyrically told, about reinterpreting our archived childhood memories from the vantage point of adulthood. It helps when those memories plunk us in the middle of wartime espionage and disrupt our sense of safety and justice.

The story starts gently enough, carefully laying the ground work with a table full of intriguing strangers. In fact, you might wonder where Ondaatje is going with all of this delightful but rambling character description, colored with just a hint of skulduggery. But pay attention. For then we are violently thrust into Part 2, left with scraps of unfinished story and many questions.

Now our story teller, Nathaniel/Stitch Williams, deserted as a child by his parents, finds himself in his late 20s working for the British Intelligence in a minor role. But it is enough. His childhood experiences have left him with the skills he needs to ferret out information from secret archives. Slowly he fills in answers to the mysteries of his childhood. We see with heartbreaking clarity how two world wars sucked people in and destroyed families through three generations in Britain.

Beautifully written and replete with wisdom, this story is as highly recommended as Ondaatje’s earlier tales.

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EllenMSmith
Oct 31, 2019

Post WWII London

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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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MelissaBee
Jan 27, 2019

MelissaBee thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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SZorn
Jul 24, 2018

SZorn thinks this title is suitable for 20 years and over

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re_discover
Oct 18, 2019

"I used often to lie awake/ through the whole night,/ and wish for a large pearl" (274).

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