Tell Max that it concerns the Sandman....
A very junior agent answers Vladimir's call, but it could have been the Chief of the Circus himself. No one at the British Secret Service considers the old spy to be anything except a senile has-been who can't give up the game - until he's shot in the face at point-blank range. Although George Smiley (code-name: Max) is officially retired, he's summoned to identify the body now bearing Moscow Centre's bloody imprimatur. As he works to unearth his friend's fatal secrets, Smiley heads inexorably toward one final reckoning with Karla - his "dark grail".
In Smiley's People, master storyteller John le Carré brings his acclaimed Karla trilogy to its unforgettable, spellbinding conclusion.
©1980 John le Carré (P)2011 Penguin Audio
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
Like with the Honourable Schoolboy, Smiley's People on its own is perhaps a 4/4.5 star novel. It is fantastic, but taken as an entire work, the Karla Trilogy is simply amazing
A near perfect ending for one of the, if not THE, best trilogies ever (LOTR perhaps). Is there a better summation for the place we find ourselves HERE and NOW in this the 21st century? Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was a fantastic spy novel that owed a lot to Graham Greene; The Honourable Schoolboy was another fantastic spy novel that owed lots to Joseph Conrad; but with Smiley's people, after reading/listening to it, you realize John le Carré owes nobody nishto now. He owns the genre.
Michael Jayston does an amazing job narrating le Carré. He belongs in the top shelf of audiobook narrators. His variation for voices is different enough to distinguished the characters, but subtle enough to not distract from the flow of the narrative or the melody of le Carré's prose.
Michael Jayston has a remarkable way with subtle changes to his voice; I have been familiar with his acting work since I lived in England in the 1960s. I watched him in the original BBC production of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, where he played Guillam. In this reading of Smiley's People, his vocal work as the excitable Pole Toby Esterhaze is memorable. He gets JUST the right amount of twisted English to reflect the man's origins even though he has lived in England for many years. And his voice for George Smiley is perfect. One can see Alec Guiness's face (the original Smiley of the BBC classic) as Jayston speaks his lines.
The VOICES which are perfect!!
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
This is the seventh book of le Carré's that I have read in the last six months or so, most on audiobook. And it is definatly in the top half. Not sure the exact position, but le Carré seems to get the right balance of telling the reading what we need to know, but keeping us just enough in the dark to keep the mystery present.
Smiley's People is better than the Honorable Schoolboy and I think a great conclusion to the Karla trilogy.
excellent and well written, i enjoyed the entire Smiley series even though technically he's not the main character in some of them and only pops up intermittently.
Tell us about yourself!
smiley the character is one of the most enjoyable characters in fiction - he's a hero and so common at the same time
interrogation of gregoriev
karla in dehli jail
the reader jayston is just so good
Wherever you go, there you are; except in espionage thrillers, in which wherever you go, there's probably a spook waiting to screw you over.
While the story is definitely serviceable, the climax did not ring true for the Cold War. The actual ending of Ronald Reagan saying, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" is far more of an ending than Smiley getting his cigarette lighter back. Still, preomonition makes this novel a substantial find: this is not the West's (or more specifically, Smiley's) validation as it is, an admission that both sides have been continuing a war that seems silly in retrospect. It almost leaves one with the feeling that no matter how many people were sacrificed in the Cold War, they will never equal the time and energy that were dedicated to it.
On a completely different note, dovetailing the Cold War into terrorism the way that Tom Clancy does is almost a better ending to the series. In Clancy's books, the war is never over, and that, in some ways, is a more fitting end to this trilogy. LeCarre's answer is too pat. Smiley and Guillam win; Karla loses. With hindsight, we can see the Cold War was not like that at all. The Soviet Union did not cease to exist. It simply ceased to hold dominance in Western Europe.
In contrast to The Honourable Schoolboy, I'd say that this book fell short. While the Honourable Schoolboy was open-ended, this book seeks to tie the whole thing up in a nice little bow. While this may be true for Western Europe's involvement in the Cold War, it is definitely not true in the Western Hemisphere. We didn't get the satisfaction of seeing the U.S.S.R. brought to its knees and Smiley getting his lighter returned. Instead, we got a "Better luck next time!" on both sides. The one satisfactory element in this reading is the performance. Possibly reading into it more than was there, I felt Michael Jayston was a little let down to be at the end of such a grand performance. I can only hope that other writers (and readers) will pick up the slack and take over with the same suspense and provocation as Le Carre.
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