A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
What happens when a woman loves two righteous men? Two feuding nations? A woman who is struggling with both her inner and outer world; her inner and outer dialogue. ''The Little Drummer Girl'' is the second best spy novel I've ever read, but I NEVER give first prizes. Charlie is a woman who incubates in the womb of her mind the warring ideals and pitiful trails of two imperfect people(s). We all have both angels and devils in our nature and the irony is that when we try to invent one, we end up becoming the other.
I love William F. Buckley's take:
''The Little Drummer Girl'' is about spies as ''Madame Bovary'' is about adultery or ''Crime and Punishment'' about crime. Mr. le Carré easily establishes that he is not beholden to the form he elects to use. This book will permanently raise him out of the espionage league, narrowly viewed.
Jayston the narrator, gently eases us through Le Carré's foggy, nuanced narrative. The layers and levels of this novel makes this a challenging novel to narrate, but Jayston does an amazing job with it.
"The old isms were dead, the contest between Communism and capitalism had ended in a wet whimper. Its rhetoric had fled underground into the secret chambers of the grey men, who were still dancing away long after the music had ended."
I love 'The Russia House'. I love the anger; the way the novel seems to capture all the threads that le Carré had woven in most all of his cold war novels and noose both sides. I love it for its humanity. In some ways it reminded me of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four: with the bureaucracies/grey men of both sides of the Cold War desperate to continue the fight, desperate for an enemy, desperate for perpetual fear for the greater good.
While I was knocked over by Orwell's GREAT novel, I never cared for Winston Smith quite the same way I cared for Scott Blair. Le Carré's genius is making you absolutely love his sinners and fear his saints, and then making you forget which is which and who is who. The West is mirrored by the East. We have become what we feared, what we fought.. Ultimately, le Carré's characters become like family. Yes, they are flawed. Yes, they are giants. Yes, they are petty...and, utimately they are you.
John le Carré's first novel is a subtle story of friendship, espionage, guilt and tradecraft. le Carré is one of those great genre writers who I think will be read 200 years from now. This short first novel foreshadows many of the themes and moral ambiguities of later le Carré espionage novels.