George Smiley has become chief of the battered British Secret Service. The betrayals of a Soviet double agent have riddled the spy network, and Smiley wants revenge. He chooses his weapon: Jerry Westerby, "The Honourable Schoolboy", a passionate lover, and a seasoned, reckless secret agent. Westerby is pointed east, to Hong Kong. So begins the terrifying game.
©2009 David Cornwell (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
"All the good things are there: the Balkan complexities of plot; the Dickensian profusion of idiosyncratic characters; and above all, le Carré's glistening social observation." (Time magazine)
"After Gerald the Mole"
This book falls between Tinker Tailor and Smiley's People. Smiley reasons that actions taken by Gerald the mole at Karla's behest may reveal some insight into Moscow Centre's machinations, and perhaps a weakness. Having exposed the mole, Smiley is faced with the task of restoring the Circus's tattered reputation, and to do that he must go on the offensive. A golden thread is revealed in the Far East, and Gerry Westerby, the Honourable Schoolboy, is despatched to tease it out.
This is a wonderful trilogy, and hopefully Audible will make unabridged readings of the other books available too (though the recent BBC radio adaptations are becoming available---it would also be good to see the older BBC Bernard Hepton adaptations as well). Le Carre is an exceptional author, and his unabridged works are magical, even Dickensian.
Michael Jayston, who featured in the BBC television adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, is delightful as the narrator, and even brings something of Alec Guinness' thoughtful intonation to his reading of Smiley.
This rich and complex middle novel was not adapted for television, so the audio book sits nicely as a bridge between the two faithful adaptations.
Absolutely sublime. I don't know why I waited so long to come back to John Le Carre. The prose. The dark humour. The insights.
And the narrator is perfect for the text. Just perfect.
"The Honourable Shoolboy"
What a wonderful introduction to the world of Audible Books. We ordered the book with the firm intention of listening on a long and planned car journey across Europe, we decided to test the system but soon, very soon, found we drove everywhere at a snails pace and then would park and wait 'till chapter end to listen to the book. And what a great book, wonderfully read by the well paced and distinctive voice of Michael Jayston, the book has a wide cast but MJ conjures up the characters well and in a very distinctive way - there can be no doubt who the character is, itself a great advantage with this book with its complexities.
The book is the one not seen on TV or film, its the missing book and for those that love the other two in Smiley trilogy this is unmiss-able.
Would I recommend, without a doubt, provided you are happy to drive slowly or wait on stations with your iPod clamped to your ears!
"Chris from the West Mids"
This is the third novel of the 'Karla trilogy' following Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy and Smiley's People. Not made at the time by the BBC because of prohibitive costs, as I understand it - more's the pity! I am a total Le Carre addict anyway but I consider this novel to be his best and it must surely rank also as one of the very best of its' genre.
This is a heady mix of espionage, humour, pathos and brutality and is equally rich in characters, not least of whom are George Smiley and Gerry Westerby, and it's all so beautifully crafted and told as only Le Carre can.
The next superlative I will save for the narrator, Michael Jayston who is nothing less than a genius in this field. I have listened to many, many audio books with some excellent narrators but none are his equal.
I absolutely never tire of listening to this and I'm certain that I never could. I can passionately recommend you listen and experience it too! beta inappVoteInfo
"THE UNFILMABLE LE CARRE NOVEL"
The 'honourable Schoolboy' is the Le Carre novel that you will not have seen at the Cinema but you will have seen the First and Third parts of this 'Search for Karla' trilogy.
The book commences at the end of 'Tinker, Tailor':The 'Circus' (aka British Intelligence or SIS) is broken, decimated by the treachery of the Russian 'mole' (penetration agent), Bill Hayden. George Smiley is at the helm and with a small trusted team (Peter Gwillam et al) has to resurrect the 'Cicus' from the ashes: Technicians are excavating hidden microphones from the building walls whilst Researchers are taking 'backbearings' on old cases.
From this the 'Circus' discover secret Russian Intelligence ('Moscow Centre') payments to a source in the Far East which leads them to a respectable Hong Kong Chinese Businessman Nelson Ko, and which in turn leads to the re-activation of Jerry Westerby, an old 'Circus' Field operator sometime Journalist.
The book charts the course of 'Operation Dolphin' across Asia and we meet memorable characters like Lizzie Worthington and 'old' Craw, whilst unravalling the secrets around Nelson Ko and the 'moscow Gold'. The book ends with the double betrayal of Smiley and jerry Westerby (the latter by love) and is worth a read and hopefully the film rights.
"An excellent piece of literature"
Bridging the gap between Tinker tailor and Smiley's People, the Honourable Schoolboy is a classic example of Le Carré's superb style, although it doesn't actually tie the other two books together, it covers events that occur during that time, mainly in the era of the early 70's during the Vietnam war and the rise of the Kmer Rouge, the main action being set in south east asia, it not only follows the exploits of the min character, Gerry Westerby, (who we first met briefly in Tinker Tailor) but also captures the terrifying situation on the ground in Cambodia under the emerging threat of the Kmers.
Michael Jayston as a reader does what can only be described as a top quality job, the vocalizations of different characters make it a pleasure to follow and easy to discriminate one from another, his George Smiley could just as well actually be Alec Guiness!
If you do not have this book in your collection, do no hesitate to acquire it, it will be worth every penny, and is well deserving of the 5 star review.
Never mind if you can't follow the complex twists and turns of this superbly written Cold War spy thriller. This is LeCarré at his peak with well fleshed out characters, an utterly believable Secret Service and a typically dark and rather grim storyline. Cleverly told with insight and surprising humour, the descriptions of people, places and events are fulsome and expert. Certainly not a sparse writer, but I could listen to Michael Jaystons rendition of this superlative work for another 20 hours and not tire of it.
This is the second in the so-called "Karla trilogy", following on from Tinker Tailor, and that's certainly where you should start. Brilliant.
"The Circus gets back at Karla"
A brilliant book, the reading by Michael Jayston adds enoromously. I have got more out of listening to it than I got out of reading it. I would suggest that you listen to Tinker, Tailor as it will help you make sense of the characters, etc.
"Good but not great"
Perhaps what I did wrong was listen to this right after I'd finished Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which I really loved. It's not as good, though it is still very good. The narration is fantastic. I felt that this was too 'padded' out, with long sections that seemed to add little to the overall plot. The setting was atmospheric, though I missed George Smiley who featured a lot less than I'd expected. We had of course met the main character - the Honorable Schoolboy of the title - in the last book. His character in this story seemed at odds with the way he was portrayed in Tinker Tailor.
utterly enchanting story telling with the familiar and brilliant le carre prose, saturated by caustic humor and subtle characterization. probably one of the finest english novels of the late 20th century that moves beyond of the cloak and dagger genre. To top it all, a brilliant narration by michael jayston who above everything else is able bring his TTSS - BBC experince to the front by adding alec guinness’ intonation to george smiley’s character. just loved that sound!
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