Mr George Smiley is small, podgy, and at best, middle-aged. He is disillusioned, wrestles with idleness, and has been deserted by his beautiful wife. He is also compassionate, ruthless, and a senior British intelligence officer in short-lived retirement from the Circus - the British Secret Service organisation situated in London. But Moscow centre has infiltrated a mole into the Circus and it's more than likely that the perpetrator is Karla Smiley's old adversary and his opposite number in Moscow.
And when, at the dead of night, a member of the Cabinet offers Smiley the job to 'clean the stables, do whatever is necessary', it becomes a long and bitter battle of wits between Smiley, the master of deceit, and the enigmatic Karla.
©2009 David Cornwell (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
“So I can tell him you’ll do it, can I?.. You’ll take the job, clean the stables?” So begins the finest cold-war novel ever written. Tinker, Tailor Soldier Spy chronicles the investigations of a self-effacing, middle aged, myopic hero - George Smiley who is dragged out of forced-retirement to investigate rumours of a Russian mole in the heart of the Circus (MI6). The story is mesmeric, drawing you into the secret world of espionage and the machinations that occur behind closed doors at top levels of government. Death is inevitable in a spy story however if you are looking for a “shoot-em-up” novel full of graphic, gratuitous violence look elsewhere. This is a tight psychological thriller that is full of suspenseful twists and turns and is never disappointing. LeCarr?’s prose is beautiful, the plot impeccable and, even if you read it more than once, you always find yourself surprised at the outcome.
The story is read by the acclaimed actor, Michael Jayston and his mastery of voice and accent is both skillful and entertaining. Interestingly enough in 1971 Jayston played Peter Guillam (Smiley's sidekick) opposite Alec Guinness in the iconic BBC adaptation of the novel. One listen and you’ll be hooked and want to continue with the next book in the trilogy, The Honourable Schoolboy, happily available on Audible with Jayston narrating again. With any luck the final book, Smiley’s People, will appear on Audible’s new release list soon.
Can only really repeat what the previous reviewer said- a paced, methodical and superbly detailed look at the shadow world of spies. Le Carre expertly explores themes of honour, revenge and betrayal and leaves the reader a little wiser and perhaps a little darker of heart.
Michael Jayston reading really brings this story to life, deftly catching the light and shade of both character and story arcs.
This is not only an excellent book, it is extremely well read by the narrator. It isn't fast moving, and it requires some concentration, but it is rewarding and I'd recommend it to anyone. I'm now in the process of looking for the other two in the trilogy and I'm hoping the same chap reads it.
Le Carre's spy stories are so good they transcend their genre. Tinker... is one of his best. I've read the book many times, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Michael Jayston's rendering.
I've a couple of reservations, though, which I wasn't expecting: I find Jayston's delivery, although appropriate in mood to the story, a bit wearying in long spells. And more surprisingly, John Le Carre's dialogue and observation of minutiae, which work so well on paper, seem also a little too lavish when spoken.
It's still a great listen, but I'd be interested to know if anyone else felt the same.
Completely absorbing and atmospheric. Smiley is portrayed exactly as I imagined him when I read the book. Totally recommended
First published in 1974 this great thriller has certainly stood the test of time. I rate this one of the very best of the John le Carre novels to date; a masterpiece of the spy story genre. Briefly the story is about the discovery of a double agent at the highest level of the British Intelligence bureaucracy and how he is gradually flushed out into the open. The plot is tight, tangled and full of suspense keeping you guessing right until the end. George Smiley is le Carre?s finest creation, a brilliant spy master but a totally inadequate man. The king pin of the plot, Smiley gradually unravels the secrets that are contained within the circus - codename for the headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service. Eventually the mole who not only reports to the Russians but manipulates British Intelligence, is unmasked by a quietly spoken, taciturn, plump middle-aged man in one of the most exciting endings I have ever read. Le Carre supposedly based the character of the double agent on Kim Philby who defected to the USSR in 1963.
This recording is excellently narrated by Michal Jayston who incidentally played ?young Peter Guillam? in the BBC 1979 television series.
Convoluted, understated, atmospheric. This is typical Le Carre and I would guess is literary Marmite - you'll either love it or hate it. It requires concentration and a questioning mind but the characters are beautifully drawn and the plot complex enough to keep one (or at least me) guessing to the end. The narration is good and the whole thing a classic example of a cold war espionage thriller.
This is my first leCarre, and I bought it to read before seeing the new film. It isn't what I expected at all. It's oh so much better. So gripping. So gritty. So English. It's a slow burn, so stick with it. Michael Jayston's reading is so good I enjoyed it even before I was clear what was going on. I like mysteries and this is a mystery set in the fascinating world of cold war espionage. Have now downloaded the rest of the Smiley trilogy to enjoy.
Superbly written and having read the book and seen the television series, a pleasure to listen to (at great length!) and chose this as I really like Michel Jayston's voice.
Firstly this was very well read but My God it's hard work! I wanted to listen to it as I've heard it's a classic but I'm afraid I found it confusing, slow and a bit dull. There's no way I would have been able to stick with it if I had actually been reading it. I'm 30 years old and know nothing about the cold war so maybe this being a part of history I'm unaware of makes a difference. All in all I thought it was OK but I wouldn't reccommend it, sorry!
I really enjoyed the narration of this book by Michael Jayston. I had previously downloaded the same book from Audible read by a different narrator. I couldn't finish it due to my thorough dislike of that narrators reading style. I knew there was a wonderful book hiding in there waiting to be revealed and the narration of Jayston was the revelation. I will now look forward to listening to the large number of the other Le Carre books he also narrates.
An exceptional book read by an exceptional narrator. Michael Jayston provides a variety of voices for the many characters in the book and all helped from his own experience in the TV series. I recommend this audio book for a long journey or when you have an hour or two to really sit back and enjoy the story.
"Jayston is Guiness"
The uncanny voice of Alec Guiness as Smiley is brilliantly performed by Michael Jayston you are buying a performance not a book
"Great but hard work"
Not 'easy listening' but if you like the tales of Smiley with all his dower manorisms, this is an epic. Be warned though you can lose the thread and may need to go back a chapter or two unless you listen in one long session. Worth it for all that.
"An excellent read"
Everything. A well written novel, true to Le Carre's style, and well worth a credit/purchase.
Clearly the central character, George Smiley. It brings back memories of the role played by Alec Guiness in the original movie.
No, this was my first time. He narrated extremely well. Being a British actor, he is well suited for this and other Le Carre novels.
Before choosing a John Le Carre novel it is important to understand his style of writing. The plots of his novels are slow, complex, and for some readers, even boring, but that's the way they are. If you want rapid action espionage, Le Carre is not for you. Instead you should choose Ian Fleming (James Bond), Frederick Forsyth or other authors of similar ilk.
"John le Boring"
Quite disappointed in this one. The narration is fine, the production good, but the novel itself is Mogadon in print. I'd never read any leCarre before, and thought this would be a good place to start. Oh dear... They say that real spy work is mostly just long-winded and boring, and to that end, this novel is probably quite realistic. Not a lot actually happens, and when it does, it's usually related by a third party or in a flashback. I got through to the end, but that was just sheer determination. I don't think my senses have been dulled by the usual Hollywood-style thrillers we get these days, but still, I was expecting something a lot more engaging than this.
"The Essential John le Carre' Novel"
John leCarre' writes political fiction, powerful and timeless. 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy' is complex and compelling. In beautiful prose the author takes the reader into a maze of intrigue, power, politics and deception. Made into a TV series by the BBC in 1974 and starred Alec Guinness as George Smiley. It was made into a movie again in 2011, this book is essential for lovers of espionage.
Michael Jayston is perfect as the narrator for leCarre' novels. His rich, beautiful voice seems well matched for the genre. I have listened to this book several times noticed immediately that Mr Jayston seemed to be channeling Alec Guinness when reading the character George Smiley. I was pleased to discover (when re-watching the BBC video version) that Michael Jayston had a major role in the production, playing Smiley's colleague Peter Guilliam.
This is a great book and an amazing performance. It is the book I go to when I am lying awake at night just need something to listen to!
"Top of the class"
I was given the BBC series of Tinker Tailor for Christmas which also starred Michael Jayston as Guillam. The book added more detail and I found myself listening for hours at atime. I usually just listen to audio books whilst I am travelling to and from work in my car.
The reveal. I already knew who was the traitor was from the Television. It was how it was described. Everybody had suspected that there was a mole and suspected the person but hoped they were somehow wrong.
As mentioned before, he played Guilam in the BBC series. He has a wonderful reading voice and seems to be able to use tone perfectly. Could listen to him all day
I would love too but 14 hours not without losing my job.
"British Drama at its best"
John le Carre is a brilliant story teller, and captures the reader from the first page until the book is reluctantly finished. It takes concentration to remember all the characters in the book, and their role in the drama without losing the thread of the story., There is a feeling of having been personally involved in the events oneself. I heartily recommend this novel to thriller devotees
This is the first audible book that I have not enjoyed and I have listened to over 20. The narrator had a pleasant voice but it was hard work trying to see it through to the end. Several times I had to rewind to pickup the thread. I will not be getting any more John le Carre books.
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