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The Constant Gardener

Narrated by: Michael Jayston
Length: 17 hrs and 10 mins
4 out of 5 stars (369 ratings)

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Summary

The beautiful Tessa Quayle is murdered near Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, the birthplace of mankind. And her putative African lover and travelling companion has vanished from the scene of the crime. Tessa’s husband, a career diplomat and amateur gardener at the British High Commission in Nairobi, sets out on a personal odyssey in pursuit of the killers and their motive. On his way he meets terror, violence, and conspiracy, but his greatest discovery is the woman he barely had time to love.

© 2001 David Cornwell (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Emotional, addictive and typical Le Carre

What made the experience of listening to The Constant Gardener the most enjoyable?

The story is so leading. Having listened to a number of Le Carre's more traditional spy thrillers, this is a bit of a side step into international relations and politics, but it is just as tense, and more emotional because of the crime being investigated. You stay with the protagonist all the way through to the inevitable ending.

What other book might you compare The Constant Gardener to, and why?

If you imagine the storyline of a John Grisham set in the tense world of Le Carre's spys, this marries the two together. I really love it, although I found it very emotional to listen to. The protagonist is almost a younger less disillusioned Smiley

What about Michael Jayston’s performance did you like?

I love Michael Jayston's performance on this- there is a hint of a cautious observer, combined with passion that moves with the flow. I have listened to a number of his narration a of Le Carre's books and it always convinces me to get it.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It is a very emotional story, and a side step for Le Carre in this sense. Your heart does bleed for the protagonist, and having watched the film before listening to this, I knew the ending and was dreading it. Don't let this put you off- it's not overdrawn, but a necessary, inevitable resolution.

Any additional comments?

I really love this story! The narration is beautiful and the story moves in the way you expect a Le Carre to move.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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One of Le Caras best

Slow start but great story Le Carrae captures the middle class mess of the foreign service perfectly

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A long way from Smiley, but just as excellent

I knew a little of the shadowy side of the giant Pharma corporations, and I new a little of the problems facing Africa in the form of TB and other serious diseases. Putting the two together and we in the west have yet more to be deeply ashamed of.

This is a beautiful and sad book with characters to love, pity and loathe. And all wrapped up in the typical Le Carre way. Perfect.



Michael Jayston narrates perfectly.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Long dry and unexciting

Persevered to the end but was so dry and hard going if it wasn't in my nature to keep going I would Hv quit after the first half hour. Interesting story concept. About 11 hours too long

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Gripping story and thought provoking issues

Would you listen to The Constant Gardener again? Why?

Probably not. I rarely listen to stories again. Too many books, too little time! It's a brilliant listen though.

What did you like best about this story?

Plot, characters, ethical issues, quality narration, humour, dialogue, pompous Brits abroad exposed for their specious values...I could go on!

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Many very different and enjoyable scenes. A desperate escape in a car with no tyres was breathtaking, FO wives abroad are a well portrayed along with their husbands with double standards.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Think twice before you swallow that pill.

Any additional comments?

Great novelist, gripping plot, characters and dialogue. Outstanding narration with clearly discernible voices for each character.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Very british

It wasn't exciting or edgy it just quietly worked it's way into my subconscious. A very moving story

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Jayston is at his best when narrating Le carré.

Jayston's narrative is wonderful. I think his style and pace are spot on, for me

1 person found this helpful

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Engrossing

Having worked my way through most of le Carré's books I'm not sure how I missed this one out. Anyway, delighted to have now read it and I would rate this as one of his best. Along with his usual wonderful standard or writing, the plot and timeframe were excellent too.

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superb

JLC at his very best. a story full of intrigue and local history around the relationship between Africa and the UK and norw importantly in the 21st century Africa, commerce and corruption.. The complete love of money will never win in the end.

or will it?

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What a journey

One if the best stories I've ever read, heard. I love John le Carre's writing and picked this is up knowing nothing other than it was set in Africa. What a pleasure it was going into this novel blind, the author is very clever in the way he leads you to think the story is going one way before veering off to another. This is all aided by a fantastic narrative performance from Michael Jayston, who perfectly captures the mood and personality of all the characters in the novel.

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Profile Image for Rosalind
  • Rosalind
  • 09-02-12

Entertaining

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I found it interesting, particularly because it took part in a country which is dear to my heart.
I find le Carre books quite difficult to follow at times. Even though they don't adopt the now popular editing method of jumping ahead in time then back again, which adds pace and anticipation to a novel, but can also be confusing.

If you’ve listened to books by John le Carré before, how does this one compare?

This is only the second book of his that I have listened to, and I did enjoy it.

Have you listened to any of Michael Jayston’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I thought he did a splendid job of the narration,

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not at all. I paced it over about 4 days, which was just fine.

Any additional comments?

I found it a little drawn out and it probably took a little too long to reach the vital moment of exposing the full plot and motivation. I feel that clever editing could have improved it, but that was fundamentally the old school of writing. Or perhaps thats just the way le Carre wanted it.

1 person found this helpful