Magnus Pym, counsellor at the British Embassy in Vienna, has suddenly vanished, believed defected. The chase is on for a missing husband, a devoted father, and a life-time secret agent.
Pym's life, it is revealed, is entirely made up of secrets. The race is on to find the perfect spy.
©1986 David Cornwell (P)2011 AudioGO Ltd
"Review of The Perfect Spy by John le Carre"
I have just finished listening to The Perfect Spy by John le Carre for the third time, and I am more thrilled than ever by this masterpiece. Michael Jayston`s brilliant narration emphasizes the richness and credibility of le Carre`s characters, and also his ability to visualize every scene and every gesture.
The Perfect Spy is my favorite book by my favorite author.
Reidun Kornelie Mork-Sagen
John Le Carre should win the nobel prize for literature. An award should be created for the greatest reader of books and it should go to Michael Jayston. This is all one could ever ask of literature, story-telling, and being read to.
"Complex story, very compelling"
Brilliant narration keeps this very complex story bowling along. This is really three narratives rolled into one, with astonishing control of the characters and such clever ideas. Pym's story and his father's story are told like a memoir (as he is writing it) but still with plenty of tension. These are interwoven with details of Pym's disappearance and the efforts to track him down.
"Fascinating insight into the mind of a spy"
Magnus Pym, the resident spy of the Vienna embassy has gone missing after attending his father's funeral. He has gone to ground, secluded in a B&B in a Devon seaside town, he has decided is now time for him to write the great novel of his life and reveal the true Magnus.
Let's get one thing clear here this is not an 'easy read'; Le Carré is the consumate espionage writer, the writing of a man with first had experience as a serving officer in MI6. You are not going to get your Bond explosions and your Bourne fights here, rather an indepth, semi-autobiographical treatise on what makes a Perfect Spy. The narrative is split between the present day search for Magnus by the security services of Britain, USA and Czechoslovakia and Magnus's memoirs and his confessional correspondence to the key people in his life.
The sweep of the novel takes us from a small village in Wales in the early twentieth century where we meet Pym's father Rick who has a dominant role in Pym's life, we see Rick develop into a confidence trickster par excellence and the effect of this transcient lifestyle on the young Pym it's highs and the inevitable lows. We learn about Pym's school life where commits the first of his many betrayals and then his introduction into the secret world at Uinversity of Berne. We see Pym develop into a young officer all the while leading a double life and his progression through the ranks of the secret service to the utopia that is the Washington posting in the present day, i.e. the 1980s.
The depth of the novel and that of the characters inviolved are all immersing and are brought to life by the excellent Michael Jayston who has made the naration of the Le Carré back catalogue his own
i think this is le Carre's best book. Michael Jayston is perfect for this read. A little diffident and thoughtful. I read this book years ago and listening to it was a lovely way to revisit it. I wan't disappointed, it was as brilliant as I remembered
"One of le Carré's best books, brilliantly read"
Anthony Burgess, in his role as literary critic, admired John le Carré as a stylist but suggested that he could not be regarded as a great writer because he wrote "genre" novels about spies and espionage. Arrant nonsense of course. What subject could be more relevant to the second half of the 20th Century than espionage and the Cold War? Jane Austin is generally acknowledged as a great writer but what was her subject matter? Mainly the doings of silly women yet, of course, she, like le Carré, was able to portray the fundamentals of human character and behaviour in a highly revealing way.
A Perfect Spy is not, to my mind, quite the best of le Carré’s books but it is certainly high on my list. Some listeners may find the non-linear narrative confusing until they get used to it and the prose is occasionally perhaps a little too dense and mannered. I would have been inclined to give the book only four stars were it not for the fact that, because it is an audio book one must take account of the narration and this is so good that I unswervingly award it five: Michael Jayston's performance - as with all his readings of le Carré - is superb and vividly brings to life the author's cast of picaresque characters.
"SIMPLY the BEST...."
Perfect Spy is not only le Carré's finest, but it is perhaps the greatest English novel of the 20th century, that Michael Jayston delivers with mastery and clout ! if you're preparing a list of the top 10 books, you ought to read during your lifetime, don't miss this one. read it or listen to it, or both.
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