The inspiration for the major motion picture Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring Gary Oldman and Colin Firth.
The first novel in John le Carré's celebrated Karla trilogy, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a heart-stopping tale of international intrigue.
The man he knew as "Control" is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn't quite ready for retirement - especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla - his Moscow Centre nemesis - and sets a trap to catch the traitor.
The feature film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) and features a cast that includes Gary Oldman as Smiley, Academy Award-winner Colin Firth (The King's Speech), and Tom Hardy (Inception).
©2011 John le Carre (P)2011 Penguin
I read this novel years ago, but when I saw the movie, I knew I would have to listen to the audiobook. I really liked the movie, but by the time I'd finished the audiobook, it was clear to me (once again) that movie-making is really an exercise in making compromises. As I listened to George Smiley slowling peeling back the many layers of deception, many of which the movie barely hinted at, I found myself completely drawn again into the story in that way that only a great novelist can do. As Smiley walks the cat back, the tension builds slowly but inexorably toward exposing the bane of all counterintelligence operations, the dreaded mole.
While the movie was excellent, two main characters, Percy Alleline and Toby Esterhaze, were completely miscast as simpering morons. That said, Gary Oldman and Colin Firth nailed Le Carre's main characters so completely that as the audiobook played, I did not have to imagine what George Smiley and Bill Haydon looked like. I already knew.
It's been said before, and I agree, that Le Carre is not a great spy novelist, but rather a great novelist who happens to write about spies. The reader did a superb job. His rendering of George Smiley's understated voice was spot on.
No Pink Ponies
Le Carre is the master of espionage novels, but his writing is unusual in "Tinker, Tailor"--the story is told mainly in past tense via interrogations by Smiley, though there are occasional scenes of action. But what you are reading is basically a very complex spy-vs-spy double agent scheme, laid out with exquisite logic. The revelation, however, is not a surprise, though I think it's not meant to be a surprise. We are supposed to get inside Smiley's head and literally BE him as he unravels the intrigue. What's left UNSAID is marvelous--the author trusts the reader always to be one step ahead or at least along side and leaves out the obvious.
The narration is excellent; Smiley's voice is a sort of Alec Guinness-like suavity, and other accents and voices are subtly but definitely dramatized by the narrator. One other reviewer remarks that this is not suitable for a commute and I rather agree--I found that the noise of the road plus the dense text made this easier to listen to at home. I wish that Jayston would narrate the rest of the Smiley books rather than have them dramatized as his reading is spot-on. Can't recommend it enough.
This is the only book I've ever encountered in which I could never really keep straight the endless characters but never felt that such confusion impinged on my ability to understand the gist of things. Despite the profusion of characters and backstories, the narrative is terse and economical and the author has an expert grasp on pacing and tone. Moreover, the language of the novel casts knowing darts outward from the ostensible spy story toward enduring themes of love, society, democracy, friendship, and institutions in ways more effective than most "deep books". The reader was the best ever. I have already replayed this novel as background music, which is a first for me.
Keeping all the characters strait was a challenge. I tried to read this book but was getting hopelessly lost. After listening to the book I was able to go back and finish reading it ...enjoying it a second time. I also moved on to the Honorable School Boy (the follow up book) Both good books with engaging stories.
I love spy books, but for some reason this book was extremely difficult for me to follow. There are a lot of characters and the book seems to jump around to different scenes and time periods. This just wasn't for me.
Yes, I would check another of his books to see if the experience would be different.
The narrator did a good job.
I re-listened to this after many years in preparation to watching the movie. It was as good as the first time. Not sure who narrated it then, but I was pleased with this narrator, same or not. The narrator does a good job with the many characters. I can't judge whether his accents for them (Scottish, Hungarian, etc) are perfect, but they sound right to me. He is obviously British which works well for a British spy novel.
It is a typical LeCarre spy story. Well written with an intricate plot.
A very good listen.
You never have to wait for anything if you bring a good book.
While its set in the "old days" of the cold war, this Le Carre novel's subtext about the inner motivations of cold warriors, what makes them tick, their doubts, their cynical calculations and justifications, is really refreshing.
This is not a battle between "good" and "evil" as we see so often from the jingoistic media these days, but a battle between flawed but determined opponents playing out a convoluted struggle for power and control.
I enjoyed it very much.
Intriguing, suspenseful, satisfying
Jim Predeaux's recounting of his experience in Czechoslovakia to Smiley.
Haven't listened to any before
No, not until near the end.
Yes, would definately listen again because I enjoyed the story and would probably pick up more details know that I know the main characters. The narration strikes the right balance, not beening too theatrical but keeping the story moving.
Yes, but due to the time, it was stretched out over a delightful weekend.
i was discussing with a friend what i liked so much about this series and Le Carre in general thus far and there are a couple of points. 1. there is a sophistication to the style and story that elevates it. 2. the intellectual, chess game aspect as opposed to the blow-em-up style that is invigorating. not everything is spelled out and the motives are murky and convoluted and and you have to think. very nice. complicated but worth it if you let yourself enjoy the writing and get immersed in the world of the Circus. I still have to put In From the Cold above this, but loved Tinker. I keep thinking of Greene's Human Factor also, one of the best.
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