Frightening, heartbreaking, and exquisitely calibrated, this John le Carré's novel opens with the gruesome murder of the young and beautiful Tessa Quayle near northern Kenya's Lake Turkana, the birthplace of mankind. Her putative African lover and traveling companion, a doctor with one of the aid agencies, has vanished from the scene of the crime. Tessa's much older husband, Justin, a career diplomat at the British High Commission in Nairobi, sets out on a personal odyssey in pursuit of the killers and their motive.
A master chronicler of the deceptions and betrayals of ordinary people caught in political conflict, le Carré portrays, in The Constant Gardener, the dark side of unbridled capitalism. His 18th novel is also the profoundly moving story of a man whom tragedy elevates. Justin Quayle, amateur gardener and ineffectual bureaucrat, seemingly oblivious to his wife's cause, discovers his own resources and the extraordinary courage of the woman he barely had time to love.
The Constant Gardener is a magnificent exploration of the new world order by one of the most compelling and elegant storytellers of our time.
©2001 David Cornwell (P)2012 Simon & Schuster Audio
"Amazingly seductive, pulling you in deeper all the time." (David Halberstam)
"Brilliant." (The Washington Post Book World
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
I have been a little reluctant to read le Carré's post-Cold War, post-Smiley novels. Part of my reluctance was borne of some false assumption that le Carré's masterpieces were mostly weighted towards the front end of his brilliant career. The Constant Gardner blew all my assumptions up. It is amazing how le Carré can write such a masterful novel and such a popular book. Many of the MFA literary novels published during the last thirty years will quickly slump and dissolve into the dust of mediocrity, but I am certain this novel (along with many of le Carré's earlier novels: the Perfect Spy, the Karla Trilogy, the Spy Who Came in From the Cold, the Russia House) WILL be read in three hundred+ years.
Le Carré is amazing. He doesn't fall into the easy path. Yes, Big Pharma is bad, but not in some monolithic/caricatured way. It doesn't just do evil, but does many things that are good. This is le Carré's style. There is infinite shading that he does with EVERYTHING. Each character is shaded, and mirrors each other character. Some characters are flipped, some are mirrored, some are distortions, but each character is complicated, nuanced and difficult to view from one position. Le Carré writes with an artistry that makes it impossible to not love the good, despite their faults, and still appreciate the human-like frailties of the bad.
A good friend of mine calls this novel the greatest love story of the last fifty years. I find that claim difficult to dispute. It isn't a traditional love story, and not exactly a happy love story, but it is an amazing story of loyalty, love and understanding that leaves the reader both tired and sated.
If one day I discovered I could write a novel that was just 1/2 as good as 'The Constant Gardner', I would think I had been blessed with a masterpiece.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
This isn't a book I would have picked up on my own. I saw a review by Darwin8u - a great person to follow - and loved what he had to say about it. I thought I'd give it a shot - and was rewarded with a book that completely exceeded my expectations.
This is one of the most beautifully written books I've landed on in quite some time. (Beautifully narrated, too.) The complexity of the writing is luscious with characters that are very real and very flawed. It is impossible to put down yet you don't want it to be over. I cannot imagine better use of a credit.
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