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Publisher's Summary

"The Soviet knight is dying inside his armour."

"Glasnost" is on everyone's lips, but the rules of the game haven’t changed for either side. When a beautiful Russian woman foists off a manuscript on an unwitting bystander at the Moscow Book Fair, it's a miracle that she flies under the Soviets' radar. Or does she? The woman's source (codename: Bluebird) will trust only Barley Blair, a whiskey-soaked gentleman publisher with a poet's heart. Coerced by British and American Intelligence, Blair journeys to Moscow to determine whether Bluebird's manuscript contains the truth - or the darkest of fictions.

At once poignant and suspenseful, John le Carré's The Russia House is a captivating saga of lives caught in the crosshairs of history.

©2013 John le Carré (P)2013 Penguin Audio

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 03-17-13

Spying is Waiting.

"The old isms were dead, the contest between Communism and capitalism had ended in a wet whimper. Its rhetoric had fled underground into the secret chambers of the grey men, who were still dancing away long after the music had ended."

I love 'The Russia House'. I love the anger; the way the novel seems to capture all the threads that le Carré had woven in most all of his cold war novels and noose both sides. I love it for its humanity. In some ways it reminded me of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four: with the bureaucracies/grey men of both sides of the Cold War desperate to continue the fight, desperate for an enemy, desperate for perpetual fear for the greater good.

While I was knocked over by Orwell's GREAT novel, I never cared for Winston Smith quite the same way I cared for Scott Blair. Le Carré's genius is making you absolutely love his sinners and fear his saints, and then making you forget which is which and who is who. The West is mirrored by the East. We have become what we feared, what we fought.. Ultimately, le Carré's characters become like family. Yes, they are flawed. Yes, they are giants. Yes, they are petty...and, utimately they are you.

32 of 34 people found this review helpful

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  • nancy
  • boynton beach, FL, United States
  • 04-16-13

difficult poetry

I personally think LeCarre is one of the most difficult writers to actually read. I finally got the hang of it when I listened to him read one of his novels. He translates himself wonderfully, but this is not always what narrators or film makers can do. Russia House is one of my favorite movies, as much for the music as the story. I read Dawin8u's review and decided to try this narrator because I knew the story well and loved it.

Either I am getting better at listening or Jayston understands well enough to translate. He did a wonderful job with a difficult writer. The problem with LeCarre is that a chess game of characters and plots moves into poetry and then dance. He, LeCarre, has not just complex plots but complex interest in the goals of writing. The intellectual and the sensual seem to take equal weight and until one arrives at the willingness to translate these strands into comprehension whole parts of a story refuse to read. There may be something about writers attempting to understand Russia that I like as well. Martin Cruz Smith writes in ways that read like poetry in his Renko books.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Dense

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Too long and too dense even for Le Carre. Could not follow plot and characters easily.

Would you recommend The Russia House to your friends? Why or why not?

No - there are other Le Carre books that are better and more digestible.

Which character – as performed by Michael Jayston – was your favorite?

He's a great reader, perhaps the best at Le Carre

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • uriah1970
  • Crofton, MD United States
  • 02-20-17

Boring as the film from 1991

No disrespect to Mr. Le Carre, well written, just couldn't get into the story. What did I just read?

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tamara
  • Vista, CA, United States
  • 03-16-13

a trail of blah

wasn't impressed - and I love espionage ...

the parts which could have been gritty were completely white-washed ... I felt the details were in all the wrong places

1 of 9 people found this review helpful