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Warlight

Written by: Michael Ondaatje
Narrated by: George Blagden
Length: 7 hrs and 32 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, read by George Blagden.    

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018.

An elegiac, dreamlike novel set in post-WW2 London about memory, family secrets and lies, from the internationally acclaimed author of The English Patient.

‘The past never remains in the past…’

London, 1945. The capital is still reeling from the war. Fourteen-year-old Nathaniel and his older sister Rachel are abandoned by their parents who leave the country on business, and are left in the dubious care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. Nathaniel is introduced to The Moth’s band of criminal misfits and is caught up in a series of teenage misadventures, from smuggling greyhounds for illegal dog racing to lovers’ trysts in abandoned buildings at night.

But is this eccentric crew really what and who they claim to be? And most importantly, what happened to Nathaniel’s mother? Was her purported reason for leaving true? What secrets did she hide in her past? Years later Nathaniel, now an adult, begins to slowly piece together using the files of intelligence agencies - and through reality, recollection and imagination - the startling truths of puzzles formed decades earlier.
 

©2018 Michael Ondaatje (P)2018 Random House Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"A novel of shadowy brilliance." (The Times)

"Fiction as rich, as beautiful, as melancholy as life itself, written in the visionary language of memory." (Observer)

"Ondaatje brilliantly threads the mysteries and disguises and tangled loyalties and personal yearnings of the secret world...and has constructed something of real emotional and psychological heft, delicate melancholy and yet, frequently, page-turning plottiness. I haven’t read a better novel this year." (Telegraph

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A beautiful story

Michael Ondaatje tells an intriguing story of post-war London at night, full of mysterious characters and secrets and secret agents. Really enjoyed listening to it.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Renee Otmar
  • 20-08-19

Extraordinary characters; storytelling at its best

I came to this book with high expectations – and I was not disappointed. This is not an easy read, but it is mightily rewarding for those who like a challenge.
Deep and multi-layered would best describe the extraordinary characters as the author develops them along with a remarkable story.
We discussed the novel at my monthly book club – at great length! Some loved the 'gaps' that sparked the reader's imagination, while others despised having certain questions left unanswered.
Literary fiction at its best.

About the reviewer: My reviews may be critical but never unkind or malicious. I am a voracious reader who consumes books in print and audio -- fiction, non-fiction and professional reference -- in equal measure, and my reviews reflect this wide readership.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Joey Queens
  • 03-02-19

Not one of the best listens

I found story dull and slow, and narrator's unvarying wistful tone really annoying. He sounded like a sixth former reading poetry, and didn't do the dynamic prose justice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Ruben
  • 01-08-18

4 stars for the good writing, 2 for the story

never really got into the story, only occasionally was I really curious to see what would happen. maybe more of a reading book than a listening one. that being said, there are plenty of beautiful sentences and original images that transport you to the mysterious world of the main character's cloudy recollection of his youth. glad I read something by Ondaatje, but not really hungry for more.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Hamish Betteridge
  • 21-07-18

Quality writing

Oddly intimate and enveloping ,
Drawing the reader into his world with vivid memorable images captured in the mind like old monochrome images.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • janien
  • 14-08-18

Oh dear, a tad on the dull side.......

I had great expectations with this being a man booker nominated read. Certain aspects I loved; the historical period, the sublime language. Simply a shame the story is somewhat dull, I only wish the author had written the story from a more interesting characters perspective such as the sister, Rachel.

The audible presentation is faultless and the narrator wonderful.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Earnest
  • 27-07-18

Assembling stories from a grain of sand

An overwhelmingly restrained composition of a book. As close to the manner of creating a painting as I have ever read.
We read not about the exploits of many, many unknowable people in a period of terrible savagery and fear, but instead we feel the disruption in the air or water around us as they pass on by.
Truly. Imagine brush strokes that suggest war light. Negative spaces momentarily filled. The existence of “war/ness” amongst people so unlikely to be recognized, but immeasurably brave.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • bookylady
  • 10-09-18

Loved every minute.

From the first page to the last, I found this to be a great novel to listen to. The narrator's voice was just perfect for this tale of skullduggery and espionage during and after WW2. The cast of characters was both entertaining and intriguing and the historical details were well-researched and often unusual.
A war story with a difference and a really nice, satisfying twist at the end. Utterly believable.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 04-07-18

Unsung Heroes

An amazing and enlightening book about a time I had not given enough thought to. Highly recommended.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-07-19

Ripples in the water

This book considers the influences of other people's decisions on the live of the central character. The links about how this information is discovered at times seems tenuous.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-06-19

Thoroughly recoomend

Excellent narration; great story. I enjoyed not having everything spelled out to me: allowing the listener to fill-in the gaps.

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  • Bascot
  • 08-03-19

Achingly beautiful and infinitely surprising

This is an uncanny experience of a book. One enters small worlds and existences radiant with beauty and stillness or suddenly alert and stark. A mesmerising evocation of the twilit wartime experiences of the protagonist and those he thought he knew, or longed to know. Some enthralling characters here; George Blagden has just the right voice, tone and pitch to bring them alive.

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  • @GlobalCrimeFict
  • 22-06-18

Deeply moving

I was completely absorbed by the lives of Nathaniel, the Moth and the Darter, and at times moved to tears. This is a book largely about honourable and kind men, who lived on the margins, or had crossed into the criminal world.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • M. O'Brien
  • 17-10-19

Had me at the 1st line

Warlight had me at the first line "In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals." Warlight was a bit like sitting through a 3hr epic movie where you get a vague idea of what's going on through the lens of a childs memory. Then the second half the child is an adult and as he discovers more about his past so does the reader. I can't say I loved it, it was a slow and steady burn that given the first line I thought might be far more thrilling than it was.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-08-19

Warlight - a review

Well deserving of a second or third listen. A young boys interpretations and inferences about characters that he and his sister were left with during WW2. His awareness of love as imagined through a relationship that his mother has w a man she has known from childhood. The character development is stunning as is the narration.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-01-19

Repetitive, slow, wearing questioning style

I could not recommend this book at all. The storyline was fine but the repetition became exasperating.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-08-18

A U-turn

I loved the first third but didn't enjoy the rest of the book. The narrator was great though.

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  • kate
  • 13-07-18

Unnecessarily disjointed plot

A beautifully written but tedious book with an intricate but ultimately uninteresting storyline; even the narrator sounded bored.

Set in post war London two children are left in the care of 2 unrelated adults with dubious, mildly criminal backgrounds whilst the mother continues with unconvincing espionage work which ultimately exposes her children to risk. This author is no John Le Carre. There is a final plot twist/reveal but by then I hardly cared.