In a small continental country civil war is raging.
Once a lecturer in medieval French, now a confidential agent, D is a scarred stranger in a seemingly casual England, sent on a mission to buy coal at any price. Initially, this seems to be a matter of straightforward negotiation, but soon, implicated in murder, accused of possessing false documents and theft, held responsible for the death of a young woman, D becomes a hunted man, tormented by allegiances, doubts and the love of others.
©1978 Graham Greene (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
I'm not interested in rankings like this. I recommend it, so listen to it and make up your own mind.
There's a touch of nightmarish surrealism about this so in part it reminded me of Kafka's The Trial. It's also reminiscent of some pulp noir novels of the period, luridly exaggerated and unlikely in tone but still compelling as it goes on. Also a touch of Conrad's The Secret Agent and John Buchan's Thirty Nine Steps.
He is very good but the novel is a demanding one to read and I'm not sure the protagonist's foreign accent is absolutely necessary, although he is the 'confidential agent' of the government forces in the Spanish Civil War so I'm sure the makers would argue it is. TPS is a brilliant reader however.
It wouldn't be what it actually was on the posters of the 1945 film with Lauren Bacall and Charles Boyer 'Watch her lips answer the call ... ' which refers to Lauren Bacall's famous line to Bogart in To Have and to Have Not and has nothing to do with this film or book.
It's a shame the questions above don't ask anything about the book itself. It grew on me. I'm a huge Greene fan (lifelong) but had never read this one. So I was quite surprised. The London setting is very interesting, the period in the run up to World War Two is also interesting - full of threat and menace, the war looming in the background, the contrast between the peaceful UK and the war torn Europe pervading the book written before war even began but evoking the complacency of politicians of the time as war became increasingly inevitable. Greene writes of the horror of aerial bombing, the slaughter of women and children, starvation and destitution. It's a sombre book but ultimately very gripping. Not my favourite Greene but well worth reading or listening to.
I think I've read/listened to pretty much all of Greene's novels and this is probably one of the weakest. It seems laboured and the use if initials for names and D's deliberately anonymous home country is all a bit tedious. Tim Piggott-Smith is always a good reader, although I found his accented characters more oriental than European, but then perhaps they were and my assumption that D was European is wrong... who knows? All a bit of a mystery and not in a good way. Greene is such a brilliant author overall, this one just seemed to be below par.
"Magnificent reading, pure Graham Greene."
The best so far.
John LeCarre, because of Greene's unromantic view of war and espionage.
I have been unable to separate the actor from the role since his indelible performance in The Jewel in the Crown. This reading severed the connection--he becomes so many characters, so seamlessly that I sit in the car, in the cold, unable to stop listening to the recording I am playing on my car system. He's a marvelous reader.
No, I have enjoyed the breaks, but I would have like my drives to be longer!
"te 2 nts (too intense) for me"
Best: intelligent, articulate, gripping. Worst: I'm sorry to say that this book was too frightening for me to finish, A combination of uncertainty, unfamiliarity, unsavouryness and uneasiness scared me off after a few chapters.
Sorry, I didn't get there.
I would and will. I have listened to many,
search my psyche for the reason it puts me off. When I was a kiddie I couldn't listen to the lone ranger episodes wherein LR was suspected of the crime. Maybe it's like that. Maybe it's my fear of the totally unhappy endings that Brighton Rock taught me to expect from Greene.
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