After the Berlin Wall comes down and opens up new changes in Eastern Europe, John le Carre's stunning novel, The Secret Pilgrim, takes us behind the scenes into the former Cold War world.
Nothing is as it was. Old enemies embrace. The dark staging grounds of the Cold War, whose shadows barely obscured the endless games of espionage, are flooded with light; the rules are rewritten, the stakes changed, the future unfathomable. John le Carre seized this momentous turning point in history to give us the most disturbing experience we have yet had of the frail and brutal world of spydom.
The man called Ned speaks to us. All his adult life he has been in British Intelligence - the Circus - a loyal, shrewd, wily officer of the Cold War. Now, approaching the end of his career, he revisits his own past. He invites us on a tour of his three decades in the Circus, burrowing deep into the twilight world where he ran spies - 'joes' - from Poland, Estonia, Hungary.
©1990 David Cornwell (P)2012 Penguin Audio
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
A final wrap-up to le Carré's George Smiley series is a chronological narrative of short-stories framed around the memories of spy Ned, and the stories of George Smiley, given to a group of trainees selected for the Secret Service. The stories span the 40+ years of the Cold War, and capture the gradual disillusionment of Ned and the ambiguity of the sagacious/perceptive George Smiley.
While this is not the best in the George Smiley oeuvre, it is a nice victory lap. It allowed le Carré the opportunity to publish a few pieces he had worked on, but not yet turned into novels...while also revisiting the themes of morality/love/individual vs amorality/duty/institutions he constantly addressed and returned to in his Circus/Smiley novels.
Say something about yourself!
For fans of LeCarre's Smiley character, The Secret Pilgrim will be a great trip down memory lane. I read all of the Smiley novels, however, I don't remember this one. So when I saw it on the Audible list I quickly downloaded it. I was not disappointed at all. The story was classic LeCarre and Jayston's narration was phenomenal - it was as though Smiley was sitting in the room with you. A great audio experience.
I went through all the Smiley novels in a couple weeks and was never bored. Smiley is a great character, very human and troubled but a little brilliant like Sherlock or Poirot. This is a set of short stories, some lengthy, concerning various missions mainly remembered by the other character who is listening to Smiley talk to a group of students but each story is in itself a little gem and as with series deals with much more than just the "spy" aspects. the people are very real and human and suffering and you feel for many of them even if they are on the "wrong" side. looking forward to more LeCarre.
If you enjoyed the George Smiley books, this series of short stories, that include the Smiley character, will be a pleasure to read. Michael Jayston was the perfect narrator for these stories about the world of British spies.
This Cold Warrior was mesmerized by the tales of moral ambiguity ; especially the stand alone short stories in Parts 8 and Ten.
Gripping and widely varied short stories masterfully interwoven into the "Smiley" universe.
Eccentric (and often poignantly tragic) characters are sensitively and subtley portrayed against the backdrop of the intelligence community and it's surreal mode of life.
I cannot really rank this since I am a huge fan of Le Carre. Suffice to say it is excellent.
Jayston is a fine actor, whom I saw often in BBC dramas. He gets the nuances and idiosyncrasies of British upper class speech perfectly, as well as the other characters that Le Carre creates so vividly.
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