Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

I get really excited when I learn about new books from some authors (I initially thought a select few but the list is actually quite long) and Michael Ondaatje is at the top of that list.  Years ago, I read The English Patient for an independent study project in either grade 12 or OAC English and I’m a bit sad to stay that it didn’t stick with me.  Not because I was reading it for a school project (some of my all time favourite reads came from those) but because I don’t really remember it. Maybe I missed something in it and after discovering more of Ondaatje’s work as an adult, it probably merits a re-read.*

I love the stories Ondaatje tells, his deep and interesting characters and the beautiful way in which he writes.  I have gotten lost in more than one of his novels and since I can’t think of which one is my favourite, it’s probably worth re-visiting a few of those too.  Warlight, much like many of his other novels, delivered what I was expecting – a beautiful and interesting story that mostly kept me captivated.  I will admit mostly captivated because as I read through the first part of the novel, I had a moment where I wondered where it was headed. I shouldn’t have had any doubts on that note as I soon became engrossed in the novel and looked forward to reading it each night.

Warlight is the story of 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, in 1945 post-war London.  Their parents leave them to go to Singapore for their father’s work and they are left in the care of an interesting character who is called The Moth.  Nathaniel is both intrigued and shaped by the interesting crew of friends The Moth introduces to their lives during this time.  Nathaniel’s adventures through post-war London are seemingly fun and free, adventures that keep him from noticing some dangerous signs.  The joys of youth!  There is a shift in the story and it moves to Nathaniel as an adult working to piece together the story of his mother and figure out exactly who she is. The story is fascinating as Nathaniel explores and experiences post-war London and meets a cast of interesting people and continued to fascinate me as it shifted to Nathaniel learning about his mother and the life he didn’t know she lead.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and felt a bit sad when I finished it.  Sad because I realized some time will pass before another of his books is published and sad because I’m always a little sad when a great book ends.  If you are looking for an interesting and beautiful story with great characters, I highly recommend Warlight.  Or, if you’re just looking to meet a new author, it’s worth a read!  And if you’re an Ondaatje fan, don’t miss it.

I hope you enjoy!


*I learned something interesting about The English Patient this morning.  It was chosen as a shortlist selection for the Golden Man Booker prize, representing the 90’s decade as the book won the Man Booker prize then.  Definitely worth a re-read! https://bookriot.com/2018/05/30/golden-man-booker-prize-shortlist/


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