©2006 David Cornwell. All Rights Reserved; (P)2006 Hodder & Stoughton Audiobooks. All Rights Reserved
"Amid the bursts of humor, le Carré convincingly conveys his empathy." (Publishers Weekly)
"His prose is as lovely and expressive as ever; his ear for dialogue remains wonderfully acute." (Washington Post)
This is the best audiobook I have heard. I think it is probably better as an audiobook than a text because of the incredible narration.
It is beautifully written - full of colours and textures. It is not a thriller, but grpping nonetheless.
It reminded me of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.
These folk who complain about the narrator don't get it. If they can't understand his various accents, well, I'd say that they must not venture far from home. This narrator was completely appropriate for this book and the character he enacted.
I enjoyed the book. It wasn't my favorite le Carre book, but it was good. As those who have read him before know, he doesn't adhere to a formula and requires more of his readers than do the writers of most "airplane" mysteries. This is worth a listen.
Set against an African background but with the action in the UK, this is a rather unusual story about a secret summit of African leaders which is bugged by MI5 and an Afro-British interpreter who is in deeper than he appears to the delegates. The cultured voice of the reader still carries his racial background in its tenor, and he is able to give dicrete voices to each speaker so the listener is never in doubt as to who is speaking. Le Carre as always gives a twisting tale, and with the end of the cold war he has found other forums for his stories. This one is excellent and believable (alas!) but it is the superb reading which makes this audiobook so engrossing and plausible.
"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
My basic take on 'The Mission Song' is similar to Alvy's old joke in Annie Hall:
"um... two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."
Well, that's essentially how I feel about this book. Actually, wait no, I don't think 'The Mission Song' was terrible. I thought parts of it were actually brilliant and the potential for brilliance was huge. I loved the idea of Bruno Salvador, the interpreter, caught between two worlds. There JUST wasn't enough of THAT part. The plot was fairly simple and straightforward. Not bad, but again, only a tease, a taunt of le Carré's brilliance wrapped in an average le Carré just makes me sad.
It also suffers from being proximately sat next to (or nearly next to) The Constant Gardener; yes, two le Carré's African twin sisters: one brilliant (The Constant Gardner), and one that only has the hint of brilliance (The Mission Song). One just pales in comparison to the other, and will perpetually be overshadowed by her better looking, more talented colonial twin.
Speaking of Colonialism, le Carré just wasn't pissed enough in this novel. I kind of like it when his anger is turned up to 11. The anger was here, but it was diffuse and subtle and romantic and sometimes a bit misdirected (to me). He merely twirled the narrative knife instead of shiving and shanking.
Nobody writes like Le Carr? - so much is conveyed in so little words. The action is cerebral, makes you read between the lines. The bad guys are despicable, the good guys are doomed lovers, the World is corrupt as usual. Excellent read.
LeCarre is my favorite author and I anticipate and savor his books but listening instead of reading may have influenced my reaction. I was really disappointed - other than the main 2 characters, I just did not feel anything for the people in the book, the conflict did not grab me, and the ending was soft. I loved the narrator's voice, although his accent was heavy enough to be difficult just a couple of times. My high expectations may be the reason I felt let down - I expect to be entranced. Again, it may be that the complexity of his work does not lend itself well to audio format, but this was the first let down from LeCarre in a long time.
An absolute fantastic narrative! A totally worthwhile experience. David Oyelowo’s reading of the dialogs is as every character comes alive. Here’s where a good audio book is far better than the printed version.
Delightfully delicious. Wonderfully written. John LeCarre is a great wordsmith. The subject is Africa, and he makes one believe we should listen not only to the story but to the moral as well.
Very seldom does a narrator improve on the original work. But David Oyelowo does. His articulation and voice does a great book honor and the overall result makes this the book to try, if you ever wandered what the future of books looks like.
I like spy stories, and I like the idea of this one. Maybe a good read, but as a listen it just frustrates me. I've tried it twice, and I have failed twice to finish it. By early in the second half, I just want to give up.
If you like le Carre's books, buy the book. The story is probably very good. The performance of this audiobook is fairly good, but I cannot recommend it as enjoyable.
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