Book - 2018
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"From the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The English Patient: a mesmerizing new novel that tells a dramatic story set in the decade after World War II through the lives of a small group of unexpected characters and two teenagers whose lives are indelibly shaped by their unwitting involvement. 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."--
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, ♭2018.
ISBN: 9780771073809
Characteristics: 289 pages ;,22 cm.


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From the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The English Patient: a mesmerizing new novel that tells a dramatic story set in the decade after World War II through the lives of a small group of unexpected characters and two teenagers whose lives are indelibly shaped by their unwitting... Read More »

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Feb 20, 2021

Book Club book

Feb 06, 2021

I second what JamesMallory said. Although the writing can be quite beautiful I found the story boring. I too resisted the urge to scan forward, and kept hoping to be proven wrong. I wasn’t. If you do not feel enthralled by the first 100 pages, put this one to rest. You’re not missing anything.

Feb 05, 2021

What an awful book. The writing is beautiful, but the first half of the book is just a rambling incoherence of a childhood life of two siblings that are left by their parents and seem to enter the world of a bunch of random criminals. Meanwhile their parents have left, supposedly to enter British Intelligence (or perhaps a mental institution -- it isn't clear) and the two kids flounder, enticed into what are clearly illegal activities. Then abruptly the mother returns, and the second half of the book supposedly contains the key to what went on. But by this point I simply didn't care any more, and resisted the urge to quickly scan the rest of the book to find out the resolution. Three stars because the writing is so good. The author clearly can do much better than this. Much, much better.

mko123 Jan 19, 2021

I listened to the audio and felt like i was right there, in shadowy post-war London, being told an elaborate secret. This would make a good film noir movie, full of characters you want to know but cannot quite grasp.

Oct 25, 2020

A gentle and fascinating look at post war London, at the ongoing spying activities seen through the eyes of a teenager who has been abandoned by his mother as she keeps fighting this silent and little known of war.

Sep 25, 2020

Karen Lieneke Recommendation

Sep 18, 2020

This is not my usual cup of tea (I'd rather read history than historical novels), but this grabbed me from the start. So much intrigue, so many teasers. It read so well that I even resisted the temptation (rarely resisted!) to peek at the ending. And what an ending. Especially since the town of Gakova is mentioned; it has a tragic role in my family's history.

Aug 06, 2020

One critic says this is his best novel since "The English Patient." Not having read it, I can't speak to that, but this is beautifully written, character-driven fiction.

The narrator/protagonist is a wounded soul whose enigmatic mother abandons him and his sister for four years during World War II. He subsequently seeks to reconstruct his mother's past and heal his fractured psyche, succeeding quite well in the first task but not too much in the second.

This is only a summary and, of course, does not do full justice to the story.

I definitely recommend this.

Jun 06, 2020

Interesting of London life for those that were undercover during the war. And how they were still being sought. Not too compelling.

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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Jan 27, 2019

MelissaBee thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Jul 24, 2018

SZorn thinks this title is suitable for 20 years and over


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Feb 20, 2021

Rec Nancy Chapel. (Typical!) Author of English Patient. 1945 In London, teenage brother & sister left by parents.
Apparently espionage business. Beautifully written. Some reviews say too rambling


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Oct 18, 2019

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


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