As the fall of Saigon looms, master spy George Smiley must outmaneuver his Soviet counterpart on a battlefield that neither can afford to lose.
The mole has been eliminated, but the damage wrought has brought the British Secret Service to its knees. Given charge of the gravely compromised Circus, George Smiley embarks on a campaign to uncover what Moscow Centre most wants to hide. When the trail goes cold at a Hong Kong gold seam, Smiley dispatches Gerald Westerby to shake the money tree.
A part-time operative with cover as a philandering journalist, Westerby insinuates himself into a war-torn world where allegiances - and lives - are bought and sold.
Brilliantly plotted and morally complex, The Honourable Schoolboy is the second installment of John le Carré's renowned Karla trilogy, and a riveting portrayal of post-colonial espionage.
©2011 John le Carre (P)2012 Penguin
"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
Well sport, this was a messy, sometimes uneven AND occasionally even a plodding novel but I absolutely loved every single word of it. Le Carré is often compared to Graham Greene, but the only real literary comparison for this novel is Joseph Conrad. I was wondering why I kept thinking of Victory and Nostromo, and why I was overcome with this desire to read The Secret Agent? Conrad's ghost floats and haunts almost every page of this wonderful, beautiful, and an ultimately sad spy novel.
How can the characters in this year's True Detective be worse? Ferrill is asexual, drunk, corrupt, a child abuser and worse!
If you want a super hero and action that defies belief turn to the Reacher, Gray Man, John Rain or Mitch Rapp series. I've enjoyed all of those and more. But I find Le Carre's Smiley series more than clever and even challenging.
I know reading this seems more like plodding at times, but in the end I found every moment, each conversation and every event has a purpose in this series. Indeed, even the remotest characters are used masterfully.
Take your time and let Le Carre introduce you to real spycraft!
Two. Smart. Dickensian.
I have always loved the beginning, the Typhoon Saturday in the Hong Kong Press Lounge.
Smiley and Guillam. Of course, Jayston played Guilliam in the original BBC series of Tinker Tailor, and has an advantage.
Sure, but that would be a tall order.
In the same way that Alec Guinness was probably the greatest casting choice in history as George Smiley, Michael Jayston's reading of Le Carre's works is nothing short of brilliant.
Yes. No. I don't know. Mr. Jayston does a great job reading a book that isn't my favorite JLC book.
Anything to do with George Smiley was interesting and engaging. Jerry Westerby is a great character but his part of the story just doesn't grab me. I may need to give it another go someday, but it won't be soon.
He's got a great handle on the characters and his Smiley is a great impersonation of Alec Guiness.
When I realized Smiley has the ability to be an uber-jerk. I didn't get it from reading the book.
The Honourable Schoolboy a byzantine and (maybe) overly long novel that takes almost a full day to listen to. It doesn't move like a bat out of anything but it does have lots of character development and a lot to say about how the world works, not all of it complimentary. It's a story that hasn't been translated into a dramatic form, except for the recent radio version with Simon Russel Beale (I've heard rumors that there was a version in the early 80s, but I haven't tracked it down), probably because of the complex nature of the story. Some folks think it's the best JLC book out there. I don't, and I think the novels on either side of this one are much better. JLC at his worst is better than many authors at their best. His command of the English language is immense and his stories are always thought provoking.
This applies to all the Jayston readings...excellent in general, but he gets a bit tripped up on accents in this one, although admittedly a challenge to manage Chinese, American and other accents. But his rendering of Ricardo's Mexican accent was more of a bland eastern European sound. At times I just wish he didn't bother. The story is vintage Le Carre, verging on less believable at times as he goes international.
aside from the mystery/thriller aspects of the series I'm very much enjoying the writing style as I've mentioned previously. I don't normally do series as they tend toward diminishing returns as you go along and in general the 1st is usually the best as it is usually something new. But thus far I've liked all the books and though they get a bit convoluted at times and the politics get a bit confusing keeping track of, I like many of the characters and each novel is basically a stand alone though Tinker does in a sense lead into this one. But what i again find myself mentioning is the writing, though it may not be Nabokovian or Melvillian in its use of language, there is some nice writing and lines stand out with a beautiful metaphor that reveals itself in a nice picture; and there have been a sentence and a chapter that I thought were laugh out loud funny. Very colorful speech and attitude. British and European authors have hidden depth in nearly every sentence.
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 this novel is ostensibly a sequel to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, it bears little resemblance to its predecessor (and here, that's a very good thing). While TTSS was a story about civil servants approaching middle age, this is almost a parody of love 'em and leave 'em James Bond novels.
George Smiley is a king constantly in check in this novel, and his operative, Westerby, is the one taking all the risks. Unfortunately, he has a journalist's zeal and lacks a diplomat's prudence, and he becomes ensnared in his own plot to control the opium trade in Asia. Like the James Bond novels, he is sent there to use his sexual prowess to ferret out information, but instead, he winds up falling in love with his mark.
Finally, when Smiley manages to wrangle Westerby back into the fold, the real heroes and villains of the story are revealed. Also, there is, of course, a twist at the end that I can't reveal, but much like TTSS someone previously thought harmless turns out to be the main thorn in the side of the British empire.
On the whole, the best parts of the novel are the commentaries on Southeast Asia in the 1970's. The region, itself, was a crumbling empire that was the bone over which dogs like the U.S, the U.S.S.R. and the U.K. fought, and Smiley and his arch-nemesis, Karla, are constantly at odds. They fight over ideology and control of their agents, but their main concern is the fate of countries that were once colonies and are now trying to govern themselves complete with rampant corruption, organized crime, etc. It is in Smiley's complete renunciation of control of the situation where he ultimately finds his greatest strength (though whether Smiley is still the main character at the end of the novel is open to debate).
Structurally, the novel meanders quite a bit, so if you're looking for a taught, fast-paced thriller, this is probably not your cup of Earl Grey, but if you go with the digressions, the journey is immensely satisfying. The novel is much more than the sum of its parts, and everyone's story winds up delivering more and more insight into the total picture of the East and West during that tumultuous period.
Very interesting book.
Plot was very interesting and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Post World War II spy mystery...
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