Ondaatje, Michael

  27 Reviews

Warlight, the obscured light of wartime blackouts, is the perfect description for the murky post-war world that siblings Nathaniel and Rachel find themselves in. Left in London in 1945 by their parents, the pair are in the care of a mysterious man they call 'The Moth' and his support crew of shadowy characters. It is not until years later that Nathaniel is able to sift through the puzzling experiences of their adolescence and contemplate the covert nature of the activities they were part of.

Intriguingly, nothing is as it seems in this multi-layered, beautifully crafted story.



AUCK 224
The full range of responses to this title. Some members loved reading about places in London. Others felt the story was very disjointed and definitely not a good audio book to listen to.
A range of views re the book - some thought it cleverly crafted with a terrific twist at the end. Others found it quite unbelievable and were glad that it was a short book! The short chapters got a tick and it certainly reinforced our perception that much of the art world is false and very much 'The Emperor's New Clothes'.
CHCH 527
Our men's group were struck by the beautifully crafted wording of the author. Those who really rated the book had the opportunity to read it in a few days - those who didn't have the time , had the challenge of joining all the threads of characters who popped in and out of the central character's life . We wondered aloud at the end - if such a life of intrigue actually existed or was it a figment of the author's imagination.
We all loved the way this book was written - but also found it intensely sad. An amazing insight into the way war can disrupt lives and lead people down extraordinarily different paths. We had a great discussion!
WELL 237
Not well liked, but good in parts! The group felt it was aimed at a more sophisticated reader.
WELL 074
Everyone enjoyed the book, and the similarity to the author's personal upbringing was a large part of our discussion.
AUCK 014
An exceptional novel, beautifully written and cleverly constructed to capture the shifting perspective of a boy and a man. We enjoyed the colourful characters set against a dark wartime England, and London in particular. Some enjoyed Part 1 more than Part 2,and vice versa, and some reread parts because of the complexity of the narrative. But overall it was one of our more popular choices.
AUCK 189
Everyone enjoyed the book, agreeing that the writing was beautiful, even magical. We also felt it was a book of two halves with the first part better than the second "explanation" part.
CHCH 540
There were mixed views of this book. Some enjoyed the complexity and development of the characters and the historical relevance. Others found it difficult to maintain interest as it 'jumped' around in time.
WELL 206
The group overall enjoyed the book...some wishing to read again as they enjoyed the writing style. The plot unfolded very mysteriously and was enjoyed as told through the eyes of children. Interest was held throughout by images of post war London and the ending satisfied.
NAP 005
The majority of the group found this to be a fascinating and and mysterious read.... You needed to be quite astute to keep up with what was happening and how the characters related to one another. The fact that the story unfolds retrospectively and through a child's eyes makes it quite complex.
UPMO 002
The group really enjoyed the quality of the writing. Mixed response to the story.
AUCK 006
A book that we all want to read again.
NELS 040
Personal ratings varied between 3-4.5, but the majority prevailed! A very well-written story with an interesting approach to telling it.
References to Mahler were unusual in an English novel. Multi-layered, nuanced 'masterpiece'.
GORE 004
We had the pleasure of reading this through lockdown. The characters were fascinating and well drawn. We wonder when the movie will come out!
AUCK 199
A dazzling book. Well-written and well researched. The structure was very interesting and intriguing. The views of London were Dickensian. The characters were presented and developed in a convincing voice and loose threads were collected at the end - at least most of them. A thoroughly enjoyable book.
Everyone loved this book. One of our most popular yet. Beautifully written with interesting characters. The descriptions of the journeys on the river were particularly enjoyed. Thoroughly recommended.
AUCK 063
Unanimous enjoyment of this vivid and evocative writer. We learned so much about intelligence work during and after(!) WW2. Beautiful London scenes eg of Thames barge transporting, to counter the not too graphic, but more chilling parts. Haunting.
AUCK 135
A book full of revelations of the post war period. Beautiful writing. Full of secrets, some answered, but some or many unanswered.
WELL 041
An excellent discussion. All admired and enjoyed Michael Ondaatjie's prose, one of our group describing the book as "a poem". We enjoyed the mysteries and outcomes. "Wonderful" was how several of us described the book.
AUCK 050
A beautifully written and composed book - mystical, poetic and shadowy. The characters were interesting, and we loved the way they were revealed slowly with small glimpses. A couple of our readers found it too random and without a cohesive plot, but the majority found these aspects clever and appealing. It is a book worth a second read.
CHCH 137
Some parts enjoyable - but everyone felt it was 1/ too mysterious, and 2/ a little unrealistic, while dealing with a surreal period of world history.
FERN 001
A beautiful story with beautiful language, but an easy read. Better read in concentrated sessions, and it benefits from reading the notes first. We were left with more questions than answers, but it was generally enjoyed. Rather sad.
GORE 001
All were intrigued with the book - the choices people make; what they give up to pursue what they believe to be vitally important. All loved Ondaatje's use of language, ability to confuse then clarify, and attention to detail. A difficult but very worthwhile read.
ROTO 002
The group found the book beautifully written, enlightening regarding spies during wartime and during the Cold War, BUT...each reader had so many unanswered questions at the end. A great discussion developed with particular depth. Highly recommended.
TAUP 004
The story was really engaging - loved the way it revealed itself. Within spare writing, he uses great imagery. Very clever writing - a mix of fast and slow pace.