George Smiley was summoned from his dubious retirement by two seemingly unconnected events - an old woman in Paris is promised the return of a daughter she will never see, and a handover is to take place on a steamer in Hamburg.
©1979 David Cornwell (P)2010 AudioGO Ltd
"A wonderful link to the BBC series"
I have been reading this book repeatedly, along with the others in the 'Smiley' trilogy, for the past 30 years. Having it in audio form opens up even more aspects of Le Carre's brilliant characterisations.
Michael Jayston played Peter Guillam in the BBC's 1970's series of 'Tinker Tailor' (the 1st in the trilogy). To have him narrating this unabridged version really enhances the story as he clearly understands the parts he is portraying.
This audiobook will definitely enhance your appreciation of Le Carre's writing and the Smiley series in particular. Clear and precise speech, and the individual characterisation is wonderful.
"An underrated writer"
Another engaging and thought provoking novel by John le Carre. It is a pity he is known primarily as the writer of excellent spy novels, i.e. thrilling plots, rather than simply as an excellent writer. His powers of observation, the description of settings and characters, the analysis of their motives and his skills as a writer should have been awarded a prize long ago.
Michael Jayston does the author justice with his reading. He is one of the great narrators of audiobooks. Amongst his merits is the ability to pronounce most foreign names without mangling them - quite an achievement in an era where the majority narrators no longer trouble to research the pronunciation of foreign words, often rendering them utterly incomprehensible.
Buy this book. It is worth every penny.
"Stands the test of time"
I know it's probably a bit old fashioned now but it's still a really good spy thriller. This is the first Le carre book I have ever read because I always had in mind that they were hard to get into and very slow. I was wrong. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Nice to be reminded of how things worked in the old days of the cold war which many people under a certain age won't even be aware of. Good narration too.
"Brilliant story, brilliantly read."
Those that recognise the name of Michael Jayston from the BBC dramatisation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will love the fact that Peter Guillam reads this version.
Jayston does a masterful job of bringing this tale to life (although he does do a couple of dodgy European accents!) - I was captivated all the way though.
Make sure you download in enhanced quality, even on a mobile device. The massive compression Audible put on the recordings can marr your enjoyment if, like me, you are fussy about these things.
"Like meeting an old friend after way too long"
I read the book when it first came out years ago. At the time I felt that it was a bit of a let-down compared to the two previous novels, 'Tinker, Tailor' and 'The Honourable Schoolboy'. Having revisited it with this reading, I feel I was too harsh. Maybe I have just got used to poorer fare from lesser authors. This is high quality Le Carre, and for anyone steeped in the books from years back, it is like welcoming an old friend and wondering why it has taken so long.
The characters are life-like; flawed but in a realistic, patchy way rather than the black-and-white of many inferior thrillers. Even though you know the ending, the journey is the thing, with our old gunslinger on one last, lonely quest. If you do not know it, I will not spoil it, but it is a lovely finish to the Smiley saga. The pace is better than I remember. It is certainly better than the TV series, which I suspect the BBC felt needed to appeal to a broader audience given the success of 'Tinker, Tailor'.
Last words need to go to Michael Jayston; a veteran of the original TV series (though not 'Smiley's People') and of many Le Carre readings. He absolutely nails this book, clearly reveres the Sir Alec Guinness characterisation and brings it to life superbly.
This is a joy to listen to and has proven the perfect Le Carre introduction for my wife. Now she knows what I have been banging on about.
"Storytelling at its best"
This is a wonderful sequel to the sublime Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In addition to the excitement of this gripping tale of espionage, Le Carre addresses notions such as compassion, moral ambiguity and human frailty. His characters are often flawed human beings, at times full of contradictions regarding duty and service. George Smiley is one of the great fictional characters. I loved this novel and have read it many times but somehow it is even better through the voice of the narrator Michael Jayston- he is, as ever, superb.
I enjoyed this boook very much. I remember the series and wanted to see how different the book it was to that. I was surprised at the detail added and the narration was easy to listen to.
"Old friends and old enemies play games"
George Smiley is one of John Le Carre's most interesting creations. There is so much depth to his character. His motivations and justifications emerge starkly and honestly. He is a man driven by the need to do the right thing; knowing that people are put at risk in the attempt. Such skilful narratives and clear characterisation are worthy of praise. Michael Jayston is perfect as a narrator for books like this.
Wonderfully narrated by Michael Jayston this is a really evocative production of a brilliant book. Hard to recommend this too highly.
In my opinion this is the best of the Karla trilogy. Its focus is much more on Smiley, and whilst there is still the usual psycology from Le Carré, there is much more out and about tradecraft than in 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'. Michael Jayston's narration is very good.
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