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Summary

The gripping tragi-comedy of a bungled kidnapping in a provincial Argentinean town tells the story of Charley Fortnum, the 'Honorary Consul', a whisky-sodden figure of dubious authority, who is taken by a group of revolutionaries.

As Eduardo Plarr, a local doctor, negotiates with revolutionaries and authorities for Fortnum's release, the corruption of both becomes evident.

©1973 Graham Greene (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Honorary Consul

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Overall
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Cracking Tale, Very Well Read

Tim Pigott-Smith does an excellent job of reading this book, creating a series of readily indentifiable voices for all of the protagonists.

The story itself is classic Greene and it authentically captures the humidity, sleaze and ennui of it's setting in a town on the banks of the river that marks the border between Argentina and Paraguay. It is well plotted, has great characters and explores issues of nationality, idealism and, as always with Graham Greene, the catholic church.

Why only four stars then? Well, there is a section in the book in to which the author uncharacteristically clumsily shoehorns a discussion on religion that goes on rather longer than necessary to drive the plot and is presumably there to allow Graham Greene a platform on which to share his views of the roman church. Please don't let this put you off though - this is a really good story, beautifully read.

4 people found this helpful

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

Superb narration of a memorable story

Whenever I return to a Graham Greene novel I'm reminded of what a marvellous writer he was. His characters seem so real and his stories draw one in to their lives. Often the end of a book leaves me feeling sad on behalf of the people he describes. As with many of his books this one deals with love, death and theological questions cleverly woven into a gripping story. The author's personal anguish over his beliefs pervade the narrative. I cannot praise TIm Piggot Smith's narration enough. He brought the various characters vividly to life.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

To do or not to do a foreign accent...

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

I couldn't recommend this reading of The Honorary Consul to anyone, friend or otherwise. I think most people I know who would be interested in hearing a novel set in Argentina in the seventies have some Spanish or know people from Latin America. I think this reading will annoy them for the simple reason that even when the characters are, one imagines, all speaking in Spanish, Tim Piggott-Smith puts on an exaggerated "South American" accent. He has a fine reading voice and his English characters are well defined. However, each Argentinian or Paraguayan character takes on a husky or whining tone, accompanied by what can only be described as a cod Mexican lilt, culled from a combination of bad Westerns, Manuel from Fawlty Towers (I know, he was supposed to be Spanish), and Mel Blanc's voicing of Speedy Gonzalez. This renders the later part of the book unlistenable. As we begin to hear more about the kidnappers motives, it's hard to take what they say seriously and weigh up the validity of their words, as their speech is delivered in a way that makes them sound fatuous. I struggled through to the end of the book, but I wouldn't wish the experience on anyone else.

What other book might you compare The Honorary Consul to, and why?

Not having read much English writing from this period, to me the style is most reminiscent of John Le Carré, though the comparison probably works better the other way, as Greene is the forerunner of the two, though they do share some similarities of social and professional background. Elegant, flowing prose is how I would describe it, with, for the main part, well drawn, three dimensional characters. Again, my sense that some of the characters are only sketched in, notably Clara and most of the Paraguayan kidnappers, possibly comes from my hating the ridiculous accents given them by the reader.

How could the performance have been better?

I think it would be wrong to blame the reading entirely on Tim Piggott-Smith. I imagine that the director had insisted on the foreign accents. Perhaps this choice was made in an attempt to replicate the effect of the movie with Michael Caine, rather than staying faithful to Greene's text. Who knows? If only the characters, when speaking in their native tongues, had been given English accents, this might have been a superb reading of the novel.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There might have been moving moments in this novel but if so, the mannerisms of the reader ruined them.

Any additional comments?

I'll have to read the text of this book to really get the impact of the work.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Twice listening

You listen to good books once. The test is whether they rate a second time. This depends on a combination of story and narration. I enjoyed a cursory listen first time around, captured by the story and the moral complexities and digressions into matters of belief, which, as a catholic, I always enjoy. The excellent narration from Tim Pigott Smith, with all his voices, brought out Greene's black humour. Listening the second time around allowed me to notice many details of the way Greene the story is built.

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Moving and Perceptive

A moving and perceptive story, beautifully read by Tim Piggott-Smith, who brings Graham Greene's writing perfectly to life. Graham Greene's ability to make us unexpectedly come to understand and empathise with his diverse range of characters is deeply moving.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Love, God, Sex & Death

Another wonderful Greene tussling with all of the above, exquisitely read yet again with heartbreaking tenderness by TPS.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully read

So good to hear a professional actor reading this – the quality shines through and the performance is first rate. Also, I had forgotten how very good Graham Greene can be. An excellent pairing of author and narrator. Thank you!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant performance by Tim Pigott-Smith

Graham Green is undoubtedly one of finest writers of the last century. I enjoyed this audio book immensely and, whilst it is an excellent story, what brought it to life for me was the absolutely brilliant narration by Tim Pigott-Smith. The distinctive voices he uses for each character are quite superb and I found it difficult to believe that it was being narrated by one man and that I was not listening to a play being performed by a whole cast of different actors. I cannot praise Tim Pigott-Smith highly enough. Fantastic.

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  • Mr
  • 01-09-18

Laboured story, superb narration

A story which doesn’t go anywhere and spends on long musing on ‘love’ with characters that aren’t especially good at it! Superb narration from Tim Pigott-Smith was the only redeeming factor which kept me listening.

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Amazing interesting understanding of human nature

I loved this story. Greene is an amazing reader of human nature and he held everything together till the last!!