*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Author: Michael Ondaatje
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself–shadowed and luminous at once–we read the story of fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? And what does it mean when the siblings’ mother returns after months of silence without their father, explaining nothing, excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn’t know and understand in that time, and it is this journey–through facts, recollection, and imagination–that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time.
I’m really iffy about how I’m feeling about this book. This is my first time reading Ondaatje and I’m not sure if it was the best introduction to his story telling. Ondaatje is an excellent and masterful writer. His artfulness with a pen is apparent in his writing. He creates a beautiful world, so carefully crafted and fleshed out. However, I just couldn’t connect with this story, no matter how hard I wanted to. As beautiful as the writing was, I wasn’t swept away from the story and I left feeling a bit undecided and unsatisfied with the book as a whole. I felt it hard to stay focused and to actually get swept away by the narrative.
I really enjoyed Ondaatje’s style. I think that he really brought the story together, moving between points in time and from various characters’ points of view, connecting it all together as the story comes to a close. You gain more understanding and more is revealed as you travel through the pages. His plot meanders, but it reflects a lost and confused childhood and young adulthood. The plot is confused in the way the protagonist is confused–but it’s not confusing. It’s reflective. But for whatever reason, I felt like there was a wall up between me and some of the characters.
I always am disappointed when I can’t connect with a story. This particular book requires a quite space and no hurry to read and really delve into the pages. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the luxury of this kind of time lately, so my read was broken and piecemeal. It made the story drag for me and that made me anxious to just be finished. It’s a story I do really want to revisit when I have more time and patience to sit and really dig in. I do think that Ondaatje’s talent shines through, and this story does seem to connect with many others.
I hope you’ll read and enjoy. Let me know if you liked it better than I did, and what it is you connect with.